Flights resumed at Hong Kong’s airport today after two days of disruptions marked by outbursts of violence highlighting the hardening positions of pro-democracy protesters and the authorities in the Chinese city that’s a major international travel hub.
About three dozen protesters were camped in the airport’s arrivals area, a day after a mass demonstration and frenzied mob violence forced more than 100 flight cancellations.
But check-in counters were open and flights appeared to be operating normally. Protesters spread pamphlets and posters across the floor in a section of the terminal but were not accosting travelers.
A statement from the airport’s management said it had obtained “an interim injunction to restrain persons from unlawfully and willfully obstructing or interfering” with airport operations.
It said an area of the airport had been set aside for demonstrations, but no protests would be allowed outside the designated area.
The airport had closed check-in for remaining flights late Tuesday afternoon as protesters swarmed the terminal and blocked access to immigration for departing passengers. Tuesday’s cancellations were in addition to 200 flights backlogged from Monday.
Most of the protesters left after officers armed with pepper spray and swinging batons tried to enter the terminal, fighting with demonstrators who barricaded entrances with luggage carts.
Riot police clashed briefly with the demonstrators, leading to several injuries and prompting at least one officer to draw a handgun on his assailants.
The burst of violence included protesters beating up at least two men they suspected of being undercover Chinese agents. Airport security appeared unable to control the crowd, and paramedics later took both men away.
Police have acknowledged using “decoy” officers, and some protesters over the weekend were seen being arrested by men dressed like demonstrators — in black and wearing face masks.