Hong Kong Protesters Clash With Police and Storm Malls Over Christmas Holiday

Residents dressed for Christmas festivities react to tear gas as police confront protesters on Christmas Eve in Hong Kong on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. More than six months of protests have beset the city with frequent confrontations between protesters and police. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Hong Kong protesters and police clashed for a third day in a row over the Christmas holiday with demonstrators vowing to return on New Year’s Day.

Police fired pepper spray and blue dye at protesters, chanting anti-government and anti-police slogans, marching in shopping malls. Clashes broke out in other malls with police arresting more than 300 people.

Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, accused protesters of “ruining” the holiday with protests on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Police said they arrested 165 people on Christmas Eve, when police fired teargas on thousands gathered outside malls and hotels.

On Thursday, the government condemned protesters for using violence. “Unprecedented violence, reckless and organised destruction became the norm,” the statement said.

Hong Kong has been left battered by more than six months of protests which have upended the financial hub’s reputation for stability and helped tip the city into recession.

The city’s many malls have become regular protest venues as demonstrators try to cause economic disruption and pressure the city’s pro-Beijing leadership.

The last month had seen a relative drop-off in violence and protests after pro-democracy candidates won a landslide at local elections.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, AFP