Hong Kong police cut short a protest march in Tuen Mun on Saturday afternoon despite the event being authorised.
Officers fired tear gas at around 5pm as black-clad protesters threw Molotov cocktails outside the Tuen Mun Central Bus Terminus. Police had earlier fired sponge rounds and pepper spray outside the Tuen Mun MTR station.
Police were also seen making multiple arrests including people wearing first aider outfits.
Hundreds had gathered on Saturday afternoon to take part in a “Reclaim Tuen Mun” march to oppose performers in the local park who stood accused of disrupting the neighbourhood.
The march was initially banned by the police, but the decision was reversed by an appeal board on Friday. The board shortened the duration of the event so that it lasted from 2pm to 5pm, instead of until 7pm.
The MTR announced on Saturday morning that Tuen Mun MTR station would close from 1pm onwards, citing public safety concerns.
Protesters gathered at the San Wo Lane playground and started marching shortly before 3pm. They shouted slogans including “Tuen Mun dai mas obstruct everyone” and “Support police in arresting all lecherous old men.”
The event was the second of its kind, with the previous one taking place on July 7. At the time, over 10,000 marched in opposition to the “dai mas,” criticising the women—who are often middle-aged and from mainland China—for causing a nuisance to residents and park-goers. “Dai mas” have also been accused of dancing suggestively with their audience, consisting mainly of older men, and receiving money in return.
“Self-entertainment zones” in Tuen Mun Park were abolished by the Tuen Mun District Council a few days after the July protest, but Apple Daily reported that the “singing aunties” returned after some time and continued their performances.
On Saturday, police displayed a yellow warning flag warning crowds against crossing cordon lines minutes after the march began. Officers then asked participants and reporters to return to the sidewalk. Around half an hour after setting off, protesters arrived outside the Tuen Mun Government Offices—the endpoint of the march.
Some protesters burned a Chinese national flag outside the government office building, while others targeted MTR facilities at the Light Rail station. Organiser Michael Mo announced at 4pm that the event would end early.
Police announced at 5:15pm that it would conduct dispersal operations against “radical protesters” who used petrol bombs and offensive weapons such as metal rods, slingshots and “laser guns.”
At around 6pm, the MTR Corporation announced that it would suspend services on the Light Rail and MTR-operated buses.
The unrest in Tuen Mun marked Hong Kong’s 16th consecutive week of protests, sparked by a soon-to-be-withdrawn extradition bill which would have enabled case-by-case fugitive transfers to China. The demonstrations have morphed into sometimes violent displays of unrest over Beijing’s encroachment and alleged police brutality, among other community grievances.
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