‘Protesters must not disrupt airport, railways’


Flying resumes: Travellers standing at check-in counters at the departure hall of the Hong Kong International Airport. — Bloomberg

Hong Kong: Blocking transportation links to Hong Kong International Airport violates a court injunction that bars protesters from impeding airport operations and can result in contempt of court lawsuits, authorities said.

They made the announcement on Friday as the High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region extended an interim injunction that bans protesters from impeding airport operations.

The judgment was made amid repeated calls on social media by anti-government groups to mobilise people to deliberately overwhelm airport railways, airport buses, private cars and other means of transportation to and from the airport to disrupt the normal operations of the airport this weekend.

The injunction, originally valid from Aug 14 through Friday, is meant to prevent protesters from assembling at the Hong Kong airport, one of the world’s busiest transportation hubs.

The injunction was issued after escalating violence during protests disrupted airport operations and led to the cancellation of numerous flights.

Judge Wilson Chan of the Court of First Instance of the High Court said in the judgment that while disturbances at the airport had seemingly subsided after the issuance of the interim injunction order on Aug 13, there is evidence of continued threats to the airport during this weekend, including repeated calls on social media to obstruct access control points to prevent passengers from entering the airport.

“Given the continuing threat of disturbances at the airport, I have no hesitation in continuing the order to maintain the status quo until trial or further court order, ” said the judgment.

“The balance of convenience is strongly in favour of continuing the order, ” the judgement said, stressing that “the smooth running of the airport is of crucial significance to Hong Kong, in particular the security and safety of its residents and travellers, its commercial interests and its international reputation”.

In a statement published in several local newspapers on Friday, Airport Authority Hong Kong appealed to young people not to participate in or support acts that disrupt airport services or otherwise undermine the reputation of the airport.

Tens of thousands of workers earn their living from airport-related activities including aviation, tourism, logistics and trade, said the authority.

“Blocking roads and railway links to the airport is also regarded as unlawfully and wilfully obstructing or interfering with the proper use of the airport, ” said Lau Wing-kei, deputy district commander of the Airport District.

He warned at a police news briefing on Friday afternoon that anyone who violates the injunction could be sued for contempt of court.

Frank Chan Fan, secretary for transport and housing, also reminded the public not to violate the injunction.

On Thursday, seven civil aviation trade unions in Hong Kong issued a joint statement that condemned the demonstrators’ attempts to continue disturbances at the airport during the coming weekend and criticised the demonstrators for damaging the livelihoods of so many

airport employees.

Hong Kong’s MTR Corp again condemned all acts of violence and illegal activities by protesters.

MTR Corp said on Friday night that it obtained the interim injunction from the High Court to restrain people from interfering or damaging operations at all stations and trains on its railway network, including the West Kowloon high-speed rail station.

The injunction will be effective until next June 30.

“We support proper enforcement of the law against these illegal activities and reserve the right to take suitable legal actions and seek suitable legal relief from the court including, if appropriate, injunctions to ensure that the safe and proper operation and use of our network can be assured, ” it said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong protesters threw bricks and petrol bombs at police, who responded with tear gas, as chaotic scenes returned yesterday to the summer-long anti-government protests for the first time in nearly two weeks.

Hundreds of black-clad protesters armed with bamboo poles and baseball bats fought with police officers wielding batons on a main road following a march against “smart lamp posts” that was sparked by surveillance fears.

The chaotic scenes unfolded outside a police station and a nearby shopping mall as officers in riot gear faced off with protesters who set up makeshift street barricades.

The violence interrupted nearly two weeks of calm in Hong Kong, which has been gripped by turbulent protests since June.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd after repeated warnings “went futile, ” the government said in a statement.

By early evening, most of the protesters had melted away. — China Daily/ANN/AP


   

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