HONG KONG: Fresh political violence broke out in Hong Kong on Sunday night as riot police baton-charged anti-government protesters seeking to keep the pressure up on the city’s pro-Beijing leaders, after a mass rally outside a train station linking the finance hub to mainland China.
Hong Kong has been rocked by a month of huge marches as well as separate violent confrontations with police involving a minority of hardcore protesters, sparked by a law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
Sunday’s clashes came hours after the first demonstration since young, masked protesters stormed parliament on Monday, plunging the city into an unprecedented crisis.
The extradition bill has been suspended following the backlash.
But that has done little to quell public anger, which has evolved into a wider movement calling for democratic reforms and a halt to sliding freedoms in the semi-autonomous city.
Earlier on Sunday tens of thousands of people snaked through streets in the harbor-front district of Tsim Sha Tsui, an area popular with Chinese tourists, ending their march at a high-speed train terminus that connects to the mainland.
The march was billed as an opportunity to explain to mainlanders in the city what their protest movement is about given the massive censorship that Beijing’s leaders wield.
It passed without incident.
But late Sunday police wielding batons and shields charged protesters to disperse a few hundreds demonstrators who had refused to leave.
AFP reporters saw multiple demonstrators detained by police after the fracas, their wrists bound with plastic handcuffs.
By early Monday only pockets of demontrators remained with police occupying key intersections around the protest area.
The scene of the clashes — Mongkok — is a densely-packed working class district, which has previosuly hosted running battles between police and anti-government protesters in 2014 and 2016.
Hong Kong enjoys rights unseen on the mainland, including freedom of speech, protected by a deal made before the city was handed back to China by Britain in 1997. But there are growing fears those liberties are being eroded.Sunday’s clashes marred what had been an otherwise peaceful day of mass rallies aimed at reaching out to mainland Chinese visitors.Organizers said 230,000 people marched while police said 56,000 attended at the peak.“We want to show tourists, including mainland China tourists what is happening in Hong Kong and we hope they can take this concept back to China,” Eddison Ng, an 18-year-old demonstrator, told AFP.Hong Kongers speak Cantonese but protesters used Bluetooth to send leaflets in Mandarin — the predominant language on the mainland — to nearby phones, hoping to spread the word to mainlanders.“Why are there still so many people coming out to protest now?” one man said in Mandarin through a loudspeaker. “Because the Hong Kong government didn’t listen to our demands.”Many protest banners were written with the Simplified Chinese characters used on the mainland, not the Traditional Chinese system used in Hong Kong and Taiwan.Protesters are demanding the postponed extradition bill be scrapped entirely, an independent inquiry into police use of tear gas and rubber bullets, amnesty for those arrested, and for the city’s unelected leader Carrie Lam to step down.Beijing has thrown its full support behind the embattled Lam, calling on Hong Kong police to pursue anyone involved in the parliament storming and other clashes.Sunday’s protest began on the waterfront — the first time a rally has taken place off the main island — and made its way to West Kowloon, a recently opened multi-billion-dollar station that links to China’s high-speed rail network.The terminus is controversial because Chinese law operates in the parts of the station dealing with immigration and customs, as well as the platforms, even though West Kowloon is kilometers from the border.Critics say that move gave away part of the city’s territory to an increasingly assertive Beijing.Under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution China’s national laws do not apply to the city apart from in limited areas, including defense.But many say the relationship is changing.Among recent watershed moments critics point to are the disappearance into mainland custody of dissident booksellers, the disqualification of prominent politicians, the de facto expulsion of a foreign journalist and the jailing of democracy protest leaders.
Britain’s Hunt: Iran one year away from nuclear bomb
BRUSSELS: The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal do not see Tehran’s breaches as significant and do not intend for now to trigger the pact’s dispute mechanism, preferring more diplomacy to ease the crisis, the EU foreign policy chief said on Monday.She spoke at the end of an European Union foreign ministers meeting after…
BRUSSELS: The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal do not see Tehran’s breaches as significant and do not intend for now to trigger the pact’s dispute mechanism, preferring more diplomacy to ease the crisis, the EU foreign policy chief said on Monday.She spoke at the end of an European Union foreign ministers meeting after Britain said there was only a “small window” of time to salvage the deal, while Iran warned it would ramp up uranium enrichment if the EU failed to do more to that end.US-Iranian tensions have escalated since US President Donald Trump decided last year to abandon the nuclear deal under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy.The EU ministers drew no conclusions on what action should next be taken to head off a feared US-Iranian conflict. But by suggesting that Iran’s non-compliance was not significant, it could anger the United States, which last week warned it would intensify sanctions on Iran over its breaches, and it did prompt an immediate outcry from Israel, Iran’s regional arch-enemy.“For the time being, none of the parties to the agreement has signalled their intention to invoke this article,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a news conference in Brussels, referring to a mechanism to punish non-compliance.“(It) means that none of them for the moment, for the time being with the current data we have had in particular from the (UN nuclear watchdog) IAEA, (consider Iran’s) non-compliance…to be significant non-compliance.”IAEA inspectors last week confirmed Iran is now enriching uranium to 4.5 percent fissile purity, above the 3.67 percent limit set by its deal, the second breach in as many weeks after Tehran exceeded limits on its stock of low enriched uranium.The level at which Iran is now refining uranium is still well below the 20 percent purity of enrichment Iran reached before the deal, and the 90 percent needed to yield bomb-grade nuclear fuel. Low-enriched uranium provides fuel for civilian power plants.British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said earlier in the day that Iran remained “a good year away from developing a nuclear bomb.” He told reporters in Brussels: “There is still some closing, but small window to keep the deal alive.”Under the terms of the deal, if any party believes another is not upholding their commitments they can refer the issue to a Joint Commission comprising Iran, Russia, China, the three European powers, and the European Union.This activates a dispute mechanism that could eventually end with a restoration of global, UN sanctions against Iran. Mogherini said a joint commission meeting was possible, although when and at what level had yet to be decided.She indicated that for now the EU would focus on diplomatic efforts to save the nuclear deal, which signatories in 2015 touted as essential to ward off the risk of a wider Middle East war jeopardizing global energy supplies.“The deal is not in good health, but it’s still alive. We hope and we invite Iran to reverse these steps and go back to full compliance with the agreement,” Mogherini, adding that they were all reversible.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the EU’s response on Monday, saying it recalled failed diplomacy with Nazi Germany in the run-up to World War Two.“(It) reminds me of the European appeasement of the 1930s,” Netanyahu said in a video statement.“Then, too, there were those who stuck their head in the sand and did not see the approaching danger,” said Netanyahu, who has often cast Iran’s nuclear projects as a mortal menace to Israel and the wider world. Iran denies seeking a nuclear bomb.The Brussels gathering had been called to flesh out ways of convincing Iran and the United States to reduce tensions and start a dialogue amid fears the 2015 deal is close to collapse.Fears of direct US-Iranian conflict have risen since May with several attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf, Iran’s downing of a US surveillance drone, and a plan for US air strikes on Iran last month that Trump called off at the last minute.In reaction to the reimposition of tough US sanctions, which have notably targeted Iran’s vital oil revenue stream, Tehran has cut some of its nuclear commitments under the deal.That led the European parties to the pact, France, Britain and Germany, to warn Tehran not to shred the deal’s terms.Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom suggested the Europeans would leave the door open for diplomacy but that Tehran should exercise restraint.“It improves their chances of having a good discussion with the EU and other partners in the JCPOA (Iran deal),” she told reporters. “We encourage them to use all diplomatic means and create new diplomatic channels …to de-escalate the tense situation. We have to use every opportunity to keep the deal.”The Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy agency said Tehran would return to the situation before the nuclear deal unless European countries fulfilled their obligations.“These actions are not taken out of stubbornness but to give diplomacy a chance,” agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said.“And if the Europeans and America don’t want to fulfil their commitments we will create a balance in this deal by reducing commitments and return the situation to four years ago.”Iran says the European countries must do more to guarantee it the trade and investment dividends it was due to receive in return for UN-monitored limits to its nuclear capacity under the deal.
Hong Kong police demand better protection ahead of more protests
BRUSSELS: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Monday that there was still time to save the Iran nuclear deal and that despite the United States being Britain’s closest ally it disagreed on how to handle the Iran crisis.“Iran is still a good year away from developing a nuclear bomb. There is still some closing,…
BRUSSELS: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Monday that there was still time to save the Iran nuclear deal and that despite the United States being Britain’s closest ally it disagreed on how to handle the Iran crisis.“Iran is still a good year away from developing a nuclear bomb. There is still some closing, but small window to keep the deal alive,” Hunt told reporters on arrival for a foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.The Brussels meeting will seek to flesh out how to convince Iran and the United States to reduce tensions and initiate a dialogue amid fears that the 2015 deal is close to collapse.US-Iranian tensions have worsened since US President Donald Trump decided last year to abandon the nuclear deal under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy.In reaction to the re-imposition of tough US sanctions, which have notably targeted Iran’s main oil revenue stream, Tehran has scaled back on some of its nuclear commitments under the deal, leading the European parties to the pact, France, Britain and Germany, to warn it about not fully complying with the terms.The three powers, who are party to the deal alongside Russia and China, have sought to defuse the tensions, which culminated in a plan for US air strikes on Iran last month that Trump called off at the last minute.
Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters from Champs Elysees after Bastille Day parade
Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters from Champs Elysees after Bastille Day parade PARIS: French police fired tear gas to disperse protesters from the Champs Elysees avenue on Sunday, a few hours after President Emmanuel Macron had presided over the Bastille Day military parade alongside other European leaders.The boulevard in central Paris was reopened…
Police fire tear gas to disperse protesters from Champs Elysees after Bastille Day parade
PARIS: French police fired tear gas to disperse protesters from the Champs Elysees avenue on Sunday, a few hours after President Emmanuel Macron had presided over the Bastille Day military parade alongside other European leaders.The boulevard in central Paris was reopened to traffic as soon as the parade finished but a few hundred protesters from the grassroots ‘yellow vests’ movement tried to occupy it.France’s BFM television showed images of police firing tear gas to disperse the protesters, some hooded, who tried to block the road with metal barricades, dustbins and other debris.Several loud bangs could be heard. Protesters hurled objects at the police, booed and set a bin on fire.Earlier, a French police source and a court source said some 152 ‘yellow vest’ protesters and their leaders had been detained near the Champs Elysees as they tried to stage a protest.