Flights have resumed at Hong Kong’s airport after two days of chaos and violence involving pro-democracy demonstrators, who offered their apologies Wednesday to stranded passengers, according to reports.
A few dozen protesters remained camped in the busy hub’s arrivals area a day after a mass demonstration that exploded into mob violence forced more than 100 flight cancellations.
The lingering activists spread pamphlets and posters across the floor, but were not impeding the flow of passengers as additional ID checks were put in place.
Airport officials said they had obtained “an interim injunction to restrain persons from unlawfully and willfully obstructing or interfering” with operations.
An area of the airport was set aside for demonstrations, but no protests would be allowed outside the designated area.
Police said they arrested five people during the clashes Tuesday night.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Operations Mak Chin-ho said the suspects were arrested for illegal assembly. Two also were charged with assaulting a police officer and possessing offensive weapons.
Mak said additional suspects were expected to be arrested, including those who assaulted a cop after stripping him of his baton and pepper spray.
In the former British colony, the law permits life imprisonment for those who commit violent acts or acts that might interfere with flight safety at an airport.
More than 7 million travelers pass through the busy airport each year, making it “not an appropriate place of protest,” Mak said.
“Hong Kong police have always facilitated peaceful and orderly protests over the years, but the extremely radical and violent acts have certainly crossed the line and are to be most severely condemned,” he said.
“The police pledge to all citizens of Hong Kong that we will take steps to bring all culprits to justice.”
In total, over 700 protesters have been arrested since early June, mostly men in their 20s and 30s, but also including women, teens and septuagenarians.
Meanwhile, the protesters went online to apologize for the inconveniences during their airport occupations.
“It is not our intention to cause delays to your travels and we do not want to cause inconvenience to you,” on emailed statement said. “We ask for your understanding and forgiveness as young people in Hong Kong continue to fight for freedom and democracy.”
Self-declared activist Joshua Wong took to Twitter, where he apologized “for all inconvenience caused by the peaceful demonstration at the HK International Airport.”
“Our demonstration aims to peacefully raise the awareness of the global community, as well as response from the HK Gov on the five demands from the public of HK. We thank you for your tolerance and understanding,” he added.
The demonstrators also have been angered over what they say is excessive use of force by authorities and are calling for an investigation.
In a statement Wednesday, they said that in the two months, “we have moved from fighting for our core values to having to fend for our lives,” citing an incident where a first aid volunteer was injured by bean bags shot by police, according to NBC News.
On Tuesday, the protesters also used force in taking captive two men from mainland China.
One man is a reporter for the Global Times, a state-run Chinese newspaper, and the identity of the other man remains unclear.
In another development, satellite photos show what appear to be military vehicles belonging to the China’s paramilitary People’s Armed Police parked in the city of Shenzhen, in what some have interpreted as a threat from Beijing to use increased force against the protesters.
Chinese state media have said only that exercises had been planned earlier and were not directly related to the unrest in Hong Kong – though they came shortly after Beijing said the protests were beginning to show the “sprouts of terrorism.”
With Post Wires