Hong Kong, Aug 9 (IANS) Hundreds of demonstrators have joined a three-day mass sit-in at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) on Friday in a fresh round of anti-government protests in an aim to secure international backing for the movement.
Organisers said they were expecting thousands to show up, and hoped police would respect what they said would be a peaceful protest that was initially billed to last until Sunday, reports the South China Morning Post.
In preparation for the demonstration, the airport had increased security that led to passengers experiencing delays in reaching departure gates, as airlines warned travellers to arrive early for their flights.
A new restricted area has also been created in a large part of the airport that would normally be open to the public.
The Airport Authority, which runs HKIA, said the new measures were “to maintain the smooth process of the departure procedures of passengers and the terminal operation”.
Only departing travellers with air tickets or boarding passes for flights for the next 24 hours and a valid travel document, or airport staff with proof of identity, would be allowed to access the check-in aisles at HKIA’s Terminal 1 from 6 a.m. to 11.59 p.m., between August 9 and 11, the authority announced.
Protesters have been distributing leaflets to travellers explaining the main demands of the movement, which erupted from opposition to the now-abandoned extradition bill, which would have allowed the transfer of criminal suspects to mainland China and other jurisdictions with which the city does not have an extradition agreement.
The demands include a full withdrawal of the draft legislation, implementation of universal suffrage and a retraction of the riot label attached to recent anti-bill protests.
Friday’s protest follows the cancellation of more than 250 flights as part of the citywide strike on Monday, which had a knock-on effect into Tuesday, the South China Morning Post reported.
On July 26, an estimated 15,000 protesters gathered at the airport to try and win international support for the movement against the now-shelved extradition bill.
The measures introduced for Friday and this weekend were not in place for last month’s demonstration.