Hong Kong police unveil water cannon trucks after new protests
HONG KONG-Agence France-Presse
The brand-new vehicles, complete with real-time surveillance cameras and multiple spray nozzles, were wheeled out after police clashed with demonstrators at nearly a dozen locations on Aug. 11.
They fired tear gas on shopping streets and in subway stations, with protesters hurling bricks and spraying riot police with fire extinguishers and water hoses.
A government official said 45 people were injured in the clashes, including two who were in serious condition.
Among them was a woman who suffered a serious face injury, reportedly after being hit by a bean bag round, with rumours circulating that she had lost her vision in the incident.
Images of her lying on the ground with blood pouring from her face quickly went viral and featured on posters calling for new demonstrations.
"An eye for an eye" read one call for a protest on Aug. 12 afternoon at the city's airport, where thousands of protesters dressed in their movement's signature black gathered holding signs reading "Hong Kong is not safe" and "Shame on police."
Police have defended themselves as accusations of using excessive force against protesters and on Aug. 12 unveiled two water cannons -- a method that has not yet been used during the crisis.
They demonstrated jets of water from the trucks on several dummy torsos placed at different distances from the vehicles.
Police would only use the trucks in the event of a "large-scale public disturbance" leading to "casualties, property being destroyed wantonly, or public order and public safety coming under grave threat", senior superintendent Chan Kin-kwok told lawmakers.
The vehicles are "one of our options for our use of force or special tactics," he added during the Aug. 12 presentation.
Pro-democracy lawmakers attended the presentation holding signs that read "HK Police Murderers" and quarrelled with pro-Beijing lawmakers, who praised the police for their response to the demonstrations.
It was the tenth consecutive weekend that protesters have taken to the streets in a movement that began over opposition to a bill allowing extradition to mainland China.
The protests have morphed into a broader bid to reverse a slide of democratic freedoms in the southern Chinese city.
Cathay Pacific said it was obliged to comply with the new rules, citing the mainland's importance to its operations.
The airline has also found itself the target of a boycott call by mainland residents.
On Aug. 12, the airline's chief executive Rupert Hogg warned staff in a message that they would face "disciplinary consequences" including being fired if they participated in or supported "illegal protests".