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Hong Kong protesters target trains, urge general strike

The global financial hub is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis as the movement has drawn millions on to the streets to protest against what they see as an erosion of freedoms and increasing interference in their affairs by Beijing.

In the latest action, protesters dressed in their signature black stood at doorways of trains, stopping them from closing, at a series of stations on the underground system on Monday morning, causing major delays on the network.

The protesters have also called for a general strike on Monday, while university students are due to rally in the afternoon.

Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous southern Chinese city that operates under a “one country, two systems” framework, which gives citizens rights unseen on the mainland. China committed to giving the people of Hong Kong those rights in an agreement that saw the city return from British colonial rule in 1997.

The protests started in opposition to government plans to allow the extradition to the mainland of people wanted by Beijing, but have widened to include broader demands. These include demands for the extradition bill to be formally scrapped and for an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality during the protests. The protesters also want the city’s leader and all its lawmakers to be directly elected. 

On Sunday at least a dozen flights were cancelled after protesters blocked routes to the airport, although police fended off demonstrators’ efforts to converge on the terminal itself. On Saturday, hardcore protesters rampaged through the city centre, setting fires and throwing petrol bombs at riot police in defiance of a rally ban. Police hit back with tear gas, baton charges and water cannon laced with chemical dye. Video footage captured by local media showed police charge and beat a crowd cowering inside a train carriage. Universities were due to resume classes Monday after a summer break, but students — who make up the backbone of the protest movement — are planning a two-week boycott.

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