Protesters gather at airport once again to offer ‘Greetings from HK’

Protesters sit on the floor of Hong Kong International Airport today, surrounding a display with the characters for “Hong Kong” fashioned out of Post-It notes. Photo by Iris To.
Protesters sit on the floor of Hong Kong International Airport today, surrounding a display with the characters for “Hong Kong” fashioned out of Post-It notes. Photo by Iris To.

More than a thousand pro-democracy protesters again gathered at Hong Kong International Airport today to educate new arrivals on the city’s running unrest.

Starting around 1pm, protesters began to fill the arrival hall to kick off the first day of a planned three-day protest, which some activists have dubbed “Greetings from HK.” The demonstration marked the second time protesters had targeted the airport following a similar rally last month.

Today’s rally was proceeding mostly peacefully as of press time — though at least one minor scuffle was reported — with protesters chanting the usual slogans of “Free Hong Kong,” “Democracy now,” “No rioters, only tyranny,” and “Add oil, Hongkongers!”

Activists also handed out posters and leaflets with details of recent protests and images of alleged abuses of police power, as well as “souvenirs” like postcards and stickers.

A tote warning mainland tourists of higher prices should investment flee Hong Kong. Photo by Iris To.
A tote warning mainland tourists of higher prices should investment flee Hong Kong. Photo by Iris To.

One such souvenir, a tote bag apparently aimed at shopping-mad mainland tourists, featured a message warning that if foreign investment flees Hong Kong, it will become more expensive to shop here.

At one point, activists also unfurled a banner from an elevated walkway that read “Liberate HK, Revolution Now,” a riff on the rallying cry that has recently gained wide currency among protesters but has irked Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the central government. The banner was briefly taken down by airport staff, but was allowed to hung back up later.

“The government attitude is disappointing, it is not just about anti-extradition now,” protest attendee Shirley Lau said today, referring to the now-suspended bill that first set off the months-long protest movement. “The problem is why do the police, who are supposed to serve the Hong Kong people, face us with such a hostile attitude.”

She rattled off examples of police disrespecting women, swearing at protesters and journalists, and arresting students when they are “just shopping,” maintaining that “it is the police force that is causing all the problems.”

“Whenever they show up, then peaceful protests will turn into chaos,” she said, adding that she hoped the airport would be a “safe place” for people to express their opinions as the police “do not dare” to crack down the protesters in front of a large crowd of tourists.

Protesters stand next to a display featuring information about the recent unrest at the Hong Kong International Airport today. Photo by Iris To.
Protesters stand next to a display featuring information about the recent unrest at the Hong Kong International Airport today. Photo by Iris To.

One visitor from the mainland, who gave his surname as Tan, said he was unbothered by the protest.

“It doesn’t really affect the passengers, so I think it is acceptable,” he said, shortly after stepping off his flight from Shanghai, adding that he had visited several times before, and wasn’t too worried about his safety amid all the unrest. “Just avoid the violent protests and the riots, then it is fine, I hope.”

He said one of the young protesters had approached him earlier and explained the “point of view” of protesters.

“I think it is fine if they are just peacefully expressing opinions, but they need to be respectful and should not talk about Hong Kong independence,” Tan said, adding that activists should avoid anything that would “cross the line.”

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