Several schools and universities across Hong Kong cancelled classes on Tuesday as anti-government protests escalated for a second day in a row. The police fired tear gas at protestors at City University in Kowloon Tong, reported AP.
“Due to our concern for the safety of our students and staff, all English Schools Foundation classes are suspended today,” said the foundation, according to BBC. “Students should not travel to school.” A local primary school said it would close because of “the serious conflict in the school’s district”.
Protestors on Tuesday called for a day of traffic disruptions. Subways have been partially shut down, and several train lines suspended. This led to long traffic jams in the early rush hour. Later in the day, thousands of demonstrators converged on Hong Kong’s central business district.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam called the blocking of the morning commute “a very selfish act”. “People from different sectors in society are holding fast to their positions and refusing to concede to violence or other radical actions,” she said. “I hereby express my gratitude to those who are still going to work and school today.”
On Monday, Lam had warned of stricter actions against the protestors who she called “enemy of the people”. “I do not want to go into details, but I just want to make it very clear that we will spare no effort in finding ways and means that could end the violence in Hong Kong as soon as possible,” she had said.
Lam’s comments came on a day when the police fired at a protestor in the torso. The shooting was telecast live on Facebook. At least 128 people received treatment in hospitals after Monday’s violence, reported The Guardian. On October 1, the police had shot a masked demonstrator during China’s celebration of 70 years of Communist rule. A teenage boy was shot in the leg on October 4.
The United States government on Tuesday said it was watching the situation with “grave concern”, and called for restraint. “We condemn violence on all sides, extend our sympathies to victims of violence regardless of their political inclinations, and call for all parties – police and protestors – to exercise restraint,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
The Hong Kong protests had initially been organised to oppose an extradition bill that proposed to allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial. However, they soon evolved into a pro-democracy backlash against the city’s government and its political masters in Beijing.
On October 23, the Hong Kong administration, led by Carrie Lam, formally withdrew the extradition bill. However, the administration accepted just one of the pro-democracy protestors’ demands. The protestors have demanded that Lam step down from her post, an inquiry into the alleged police brutality during the protests, retraction of the word “riots” to describe the demonstrations, amnesty for all those arrested for protesting, and universal suffrage.