Pepper spray used to disperse HK protesters

Hong Kong – Police used pepper spray to scatter protesters at Hong Kong’s government headquarters during an angry rally against plans for a new town development, with 21 arrested, officials said.

Around 900 people gathered at the city’s harbourfront government complex with some trying to force their way inside to oppose the development project, which they say will displace villagers and turn farmland into housing estates – favouring property developers.

Television footage showed protesters pushing over barricades and surging towards an entrance to the Legislative Council premises as lawmakers met to discuss funding for the project in the New Territories.

Police cordons around the building pushed back the rally late on Friday as protesters tried to force the doors open with bamboo sticks, shouting “Withdraw the plan”.

They managed to smash a hole in a glass panel, which police inside then used to pepper-spray protesters, while lawmakers were forced to suspend the meeting.

Around 200 protesters then chained themselves together for a sit-in outside the building and riot police were sent in to disperse them.

A police spokesman said a “minimal level of force” was used to handle the protest. Police had acted upon a request from the Legislative Council, he added.

Mr Jasper Tsang, Speaker of the Legislative Council, condemned the protest. “We feel very regretful that some people disrupted the committee meeting of the Legislative Council through such means,” he told reporters yesterday.


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