A rally was called for Sunday afternoon at Chater Garden, an urban park in the financial district, a day after clashes led to 11 arrests and left at least two dozen injured in Yeun Long.

Protesters on a road near the Yuen Long district in Hong Kong on July 27, 2019.
Protesters on a road near the Yuen Long district in Hong Kong on July 27, 2019. (AP)

Police fired tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong on Sunday for the second night in a row in another escalation of weeks-long pro-democracy protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. 

Protesters occupied two areas at opposite ends of central Hong Kong following a mid-afternoon rally against police use of tear gas the previous Sunday. 

As night fell, one group that had blocked a road near the Chinese government’s liaison office began to move forward. The police issued warnings, and protesters were seen throwing eggs at them. Officers fired tear gas to halt the advance. 

Protesters had rallied earlier at a park in Hong Kong’s financial district before marching out in several directions despite not winning police approval for a public procession. It was the second straight day that protesters took to the streets without official permission.

TRT World's Jacob Brown reports.

China condemns violence

China said on Monday that Hong Kong's top priority was to "punish violent and unlawful acts" as Beijing threw its support behind the city's government.

Yang Guang, spokesman of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of China's State Council, said he hoped people "from all walks of life in Hong Kong will clearly oppose and resist violence".

Yang said the violence, which he blamed on a "few radicals", had seriously undermined Hong Kong's prosperity and stability, and "bumped into the bottom line" of the "one country, two systems" principle that governs the financial hub.

"No civilised society or rule of law society will tolerate rampant violence," Yang said at an extraordinary press conference.

"We hope that the general public will clearly understand the seriousness of the current state of affairs and jointly denounce the bad actions and crimes committed by radicals, and prevent them from harming Hong Kong," he said.

Yang said the central government "strongly" supports Hong Kong's beleaguered chief executive Carrie Lam and the city's police force, which has been accused of using excessive force against protesters.

"We also believe that Hong Kong's top priority task right now is to punish violent and unlawful acts in accordance with the law, to restore social order as soon as possible, and to maintain a good business environment," said another Hong Kong affairs spokeswoman, Xu Luying, at the press conference.

Samantha Vadas has more from Beijing.

Weeks of protest

Hong Kong has been wracked by protests for seven weeks, as opposition to an extradition bill has morphed into demands for the resignation of the city's leader and an investigation into whether police have used excessive force in quelling the protests.

Underlying the movement is a broader push for full democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. The city's leader is chosen by a committee dominated by a pro-Beijing establishment, rather than by direct elections.

In denying the march, police cited escalating violence in clashes with protesters that have broken out after past marches and rallies.

"The police must prevent aggressive protesters from exploiting a peaceful procession to cause troubles and violent clashes," said Superintendent Louis Lau of the police public relations branch.

Clashes in Yeun Long

The police had denied permission for Saturday's march in Yuen Long, where a mob apparently targeting demonstrators had beat people brutally in a train station the previous weekend.

Protesters and police faced off in the streets well into the night, as they've done repeatedly during the summer's pro-democracy protests.

Police said that protesters removed fences from roads to make their own roadblocks and charged police lines with metal poles. One group surrounded and vandalized a police vehicle, causing danger to officers on board, a police news release said.

Officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets as demonstrators threw bricks and other objects and ducked behind makeshift shields.

Later, police wearing helmets charged into the train station where a few hundred protesters had taken refuge from the tear gas. Some officers swung their batons at demonstrators, while others appeared to be urging their colleagues to hang back.

For the second week in a row, blood was splattered on the station floor.

Police said in a statement they arrested 11 men, aged between 18 and 68, for offences including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapon and assault. At least four officers were injured.

The Hospital Authority said 24 people were taken to five hospitals. As of Sunday morning, eight remained hospitalized, two in serious condition.

Amnesty International, the human rights group, called the police response heavy-handed and unacceptable.

"While police must be able to defend themselves, there were repeated instances today where police officers were the aggressors," Man-kei Tam, the director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said in a news release.

Police said they had to use what they termed "appropriate force" because of the bricks and other objects thrown at them, including glass bottles with a suspected corrosive fluid inside.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies