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Life in Hong Kong, city of protest

August 23, 2019 10:14 IST
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For months, Hong Kong's streets have seethed with discontent.

Scenes show protesters, sometimes numbering in the hundreds of thousands, many wearing surgical masks and carrying umbrellas that have come to signify resistance. The images are astonishing, and the issues that set the protests in motion are complex.

Amid these 11 weeks of protests, here's how daily life unfolds.

A man walks past a fast-food restaurant that is decorated with sticky notes in support of the anti-government protest movement in the Sheung Wan neighbourhood in Hong Kong. The latest discontent traces to February, when members of Hong Kong's government proposed an extradition bill under which Hong Kong would be able to extradite suspects to other countries on a case-by-case basis. Hong Kong’s protesters have been using Post-it notes -- hundreds of them -- to drive home their point. Walls big and small covered with colourful pieces of paper with the thoughts and wishes of Hong Kong people are sprouting up. Their inscriptions range from inspiring quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr to expletive-laden calls for death to police. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Anti-extradition bill protesters gather at Victoria Park during a rally to demand democracy and political reforms in Hong Kong. Helmets, goggles and masks have re-emerged as essential equipment for those taking part in protests against the suspended extradition bill, with some items selling out. Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

A man walks past a graffiti during a march to demand democracy and political reforms in Hong Kong. In July, protesters partially defaced the city’s official emblem in what became one of the night’s most symbolic scenes. They spray-painted over the white bauhinia flower. The Chinese characters for “People’s Republic of China” were blackened out, but those for “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” were spared. Graffiti and posters now pepper the Legislative Council Building, which was stormed on July 1; the interior is plastered with phrases like “It was you who taught me that peaceful marches don’t work.” Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

Anti-extradition bill protesters stand next to a graffiti during a march to demand democracy and political reforms in Hong Kong. Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

Residents walk past a line of riot police in Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong. Hong Kong police have been accused of using excessive force to quell demonstrations. Allegations of police brutality have fueled increasingly violent protests in the streets, prompting law enforcement to fire tear gas on an almost daily basis. The officers defended their use of force in response to what they characterised as violent, criminal behaviour, and have rejected calls for an independent investigation into their handling of the situation, pointing to an existing organisation called the Independent Police Complaints Council tasked with doing such work. Photograph: Ann Wang/Reuters

Locals shout at riot police as they chase anti-government protesters down Nathan Road in Mong Kok in Hong Kong. Once they were hailed by commentators as Asia’s finest. However, the Hong Kong Police Force has slipped to a new low in popularity and triggered new highs in public anger. They have been accused of crushing protesters and arrested innocent citizens with ugly tactics and unjustifiable force. In fact, some protesters have donned eye patches to draw attention to a female who could lose her eye after reportedly being shot with a beanbag round fired by police during demonstrations in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

People are seen inside a restaurant as anti-extradition bill protesters take part in the march to demand democracy and political reforms in Hong Kong. The protests have resulted in road closures and transport suspensions. The agitations will have a serious impact on the food and beverages business and have a negative effect on retail rent. Also, the protests are scaring away tourists from one of the world’s most vibrant shopping destinations. Economists say the impact of anti-government protests is already worse than in 2014, when a so-called “Umbrella revolution” paralysed the city’s financial district for 79 days. Photograph: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

Protesters share a moment at Mei Foo underground MTR station, after protesters moved into the station following tear gas fired by riot police, in Hong Kong. The MTR Corporation, which provides train services to the city’s commuters, has been embroiled in the rising turmoil, though its staff and passengers do not have anything directly to do with the political struggle. Protesters have recently attempted to cripple train services across the network on several occasions during their anti-government demonstrations. Photograph: James Pomfret/Reuters

Henry Tong, wearing a helmet and a first aid vest associated with the anti-extradition bill protests, kisses his wife Elaine To as they pose for photos after getting married in Hong Kong. The banner reads, "Let's go for it together". The couple were arrested on July 28 when riot police cracked down on protesters in Sheung Wan. The gym owners were subsequently charged with rioting along with 42 others. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

An employee takes a tray of mooncakes with anti-extradition bill slogans out of the oven at Wah Yee Tang Bakery in Hong Kong. The mooncakes carry messages including “No withdrawal, no dispersal” and “Hong Kong people.” Other versions say “Be water,” referring to the protesters’ philosophy, inspired by martial arts star Bruce Lee, of taking a fluid approach to their demonstrations. Many said the cakes “represent our voices” and reflect the “actual situation” for protesters. Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters
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