After weeks of major demonstrations and intensifying clashes between citizens and police, the city’s long-running pro-democracy protest movement appears set to enter a new phase, with calls circulating online for general strikes — including one by MTR conductors planned for tomorrow.
Hundreds of MTR staffers had signed a petition calling on the corporation’s board to apologize for what activists have deemed its inadequate response to an outbreak of violence by pro-Beijing thugs inside the Yuen Long MTR station on July 21, RTHK reports. They also urged the MTR to devise new regulations for dealing with similar situations going forward, saying the conductor of the train in question had been unfairly pilloried online for failing to close the train doors in time to shut out the angry mob.
The failure to meet these demands will result in a conductors’ strike tomorrow morning starting at 7:30am, Headline News reports, paralyzing a transit system that carries nearly 5 million passengers a day. Netizens, meanwhile, were quick to throw their support behind the strike, vowing to extend the gridlock to the streets by blocking major thoroughfares with their vehicles.
The MTR yesterday issued a letter explaining the circumstances for the delays at Yuen Long, and noting that no staff members had been hurt or punished as a result, but the explanation was reportedly rejected.
Meanwhile, online organizers of the city’s leaderless protest movement are calling for citizens to abandon their jobs for a day on Monday, Aug. 5, to attend assemblies in seven districts around Hong Kong: Sha Tin, Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun, Wong Tai Sin, Tai Po, Mong Kok, and Admiralty.
An LIHKG thread about the planned strike calling for a response to protesters’ key demands — such as the complete withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, an investigation into police use of force, and universal suffrage — already had some 10,000 “likes.”
Commenters called from support across industries, saying, “Freedom is more important than a stable job.”
Nathan Law, former chairman of the political party Demosisto, said on a radio program today that anger towards the government has grown since the Yuen Long incident on July 21 — which police took more than half an hour to respond to — predicting an escalation of protest action in August. Law also urged citizens to join the planned Aug. 5 strike to “show support” to Hong Kong’s young protesters, Apple Daily reports.
Pro-dem lawmaker Roy Kwong, meanwhile, told HK01 that the protest movement was entering a new phase, and unlike the Umbrella Movement in 2014, had developed into a “territory-wide movement.” Kwong also lashed out at police in a livestream on Facebook today, saying they had “lost control,” and their response to recent unrest was nothing short of a “scandal.”