Protestors Storm Hong Kong International Airport, Causing Hundreds of Flight Delays and Cancellations
On Tuesday, for the second day in a row, officials at the Hong Kong International Airport were forced to cancel hundreds of flights due to clashes with protestors.
As Travel + Leisure previously reported, protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong back in June to express their frustrations about proposed extradition legislation. If passed, the proposed legislation would have allowed residents of Hong Kong to be sent to mainland China to stand trial. However, the government suspended the bill. But, that didn’t stop protesters from continuing their cause, expanding it to now include police brutality and continued support for wider democratic reforms for Hong Kong. The protestors are also calling for Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam, to resign. She has rejected these calls.
On Monday, protesters stormed the airport, causing chaos in the terminals that service thousands of passengers daily. On Tuesday, the protestors continued their chants and held up signs imploring travelers to learn more about police brutality in Hong Kong. During the blockade, Business Insider reported, protestors apologized to travelers for the inconvenience.
"Sorry for the inconvenience caused. We are fighting for our freedom," one sign read, according to Business Insider. "Sorry for the inconvenience. We are fighting for the future of our home," another read.
The protestors at the airport further outlined their demands on signs, which include the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, the release of detained protesters, the implementation of genuine universal suffrage, and an independent investigation into police brutality toward protestors.
And, as Business Insider noted, the last one — an end to police brutality — may have credence. According to a statement by the United Nations on Tuesday, there is "credible evidence of law enforcement officials employing less-lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by international norms and standard.”
According to The New York Times, police also fired tear gas into a train station on Saturday against protestors, and even sent plainclothes officers into crowds to arrest demonstrators.
However, it appears as though the protestors may be hurting their own cause by alienating travelers and locals alike just trying to commute.
“They are turning public opinion against them,” Pavol Cacara, a 51-year-old visitor from Slovakia, told the South China Morning Post. “Is it right to take the freedom of someone else when they are trying to fight for their freedom?”
“I was sympathetic to their cause,” Barbara Hill, an 84-year-old traveler who was blocked from her flight, also told the South China Morning Post. “But I think they are harming their cause by stopping passengers getting through.”
On Tuesday, Lam told reporters at a news conference, “The stability and well-being of seven million people are in jeopardy.” She added, “Take a minute to think about that. Look at our city, our home. Do we really want to push our home to the abyss where it will be smashed into pieces?”
Travelers flying to, from, or through Hong Kong are encouraged to check in with their airline regarding if or when their flight may take off and to discuss rebooking options.