Stay away from protest areas, DFA warns Pinoys in Hong Kong


Posted at Aug 06 2019 07:06 AM

Stay away from protest areas, DFA warns Pinoys in Hong Kong 1
Protesters hurl objects at the police during a demonstration in support of the city-wide strike and to call for democratic reforms at Tai Po residential area in Hong Kong, China on August 5, 2019. Tyrone Siu, Reuters

MANILA—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday warned Filipinos in Hong Kong to stay away from protest areas amid massive citywide strike against a controversial extradition bill.

The agency also urged Filipinos to refrain from wearing or carry anything that could mistakenly identify them as part of the protest.

This, after a Filipino was arrested Saturday for allegedly participating in the ongoing demonstration.

The Filipino had said he was just buying food in the area, but ran when police chased the demonstrators.

The DFA said the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong is coordinating with Hong Kong authorities to facilitate the Filipino's release.

"The Consulate General continues to monitor the situation in Hong Kong and is ready to provide assistance to Filipinos if needed," the agency said in a statement.

What started several months ago as demonstrations over an extradition bill that would have let people be sent to mainland China for trial have grown into a much broader backlash against the city government and its political masters in Beijing.

The protests are the greatest political threat to the former British colony's government since it returned to Chinese rule and one of the biggest popular challenges to Chinese leader Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

Amid extensive disruptions to trains and traffic, tens of thousands of demonstrators fanned out across Hong Kong, spreading pockets of activism to most of its main 3 regions: Hong Kong island, Kowloon and the New Territories.

Demonstrators blocked key roads, including 3 tunnels, cutting major arteries linking Hong Kong island and the Kowloon Peninsula.

Commuters struggled to get to work, with many rail and bus services suspended by activists who blocked trains from leaving stations, some by sitting in doorways.

Long lines of traffic snaked across Hong Kong island into the heart of the business center and hundreds of people were stranded at the airport, where more than 200 flights were canceled at one point.

Authorities said 420 people have been arrested over the protests since June 9, while police have fired 1,000 rounds of tear gas and about 160 rubber bullets.

The protesters' demands include a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill and an independent inquiry into government handling of the crisis.—With report from Reuters