2019 was a historic year for Hong Kong, where an outburst of popular discontent transformed into a citywide pro-democracy movement. Photographers from AFP captured some of the most iconic images of the protests.

Plainclothes police officers detain a pro-democracy protester during a rally inside a shopping mall in Sheung Shui in Hong Kong on December 28, 2019. Hong Kong has been battered by more than six months of protests that has upended the financial hub’s reputation for stability and helped tip the city into recession. Photo: Dale de la Rey/AFP.
This photo taken on December 12, 2019 shows protesters waving black flags reading in Chinese “liberate Hong Kong revolution of our times” on a roof during a rally to mark six months since the June 12 protest, at Edinburgh Place in Hong Kong. Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP.
Scattered clothes, protective gear and other objects are seen in a basketball hall in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in the Hung Hom district of Hong Kong on November 26, 2019, over a week after police surrounded the building while protesters were still barricaded inside. Officials at a Hong Kong university where police and protesters clashed violently a week ago said on November 26 they had searched the entire campus and found just one remaining holdout in a sign the campus siege may be near an end. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
People form a snaking queue through the courtyard of a housing estate during the district council elections in Tai Koo in Hong Kong on November 24, 2019. Hong Kong voted in district council elections in a ballot the city’s pro-democracy movement hoped would send a message to the Beijing-backed government. Photo: Vivek Prakash/AFP.
Protesters and journalists look on at a fire below by the barricaded main entrance of Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hung Hom district of Hong Kong on November 18, 2019. A large fire burned near an entrance to a besieged Hong Kong campus on November 18 morning after protesters threw Molotov cocktails to fend off a police advance on the university, according to AFP reporters at the scene. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
Protesters rest during a lull in clashes at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hung Hom district of Hong Kong on November 18, 2019. A large fire burned near an entrance to a besieged Hong Kong campus on November 18 morning after protesters threw Molotov cocktails to fend off a police advance on the university, according to AFP reporters at the scene. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
A protester prepares to lower himself down a rope from a bridge to a highway, to escape from Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus and from police, in Hung Hom district in Hong Kong on November 18, 2019. Dozens of Hong Kong protesters escaped a two-day police siege at a campus late November 18 by shimmying down a rope from a bridge to awaiting motorbikes in a dramatic and perilous breakout that followed a renewed warning by Beijing of a possible intervention to end the crisis engulfing the city. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
Police launch water cannon and tear gas outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to disperse protesters in Hong Kong on November 17, 2019. Hong Kong police clashed with pro-democracy activists who vowed to “squeeze the economy” as the increasingly divided city reels from one of the worst weeks of violence in the months-long crisis. Photo: Ye Aung Thu/AFP.
A protester releases a fire arrow with his bow to light a barricade at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), in Hong Kong early on November 13, 2019. Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters fought intense battles with riot police on a university campus and paralysed the city’s upmarket business district Tuesday, extending one of the most violent stretches of unrest seen in more than five months of political chaos. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
A makeshift memorial overflowing with flowers is seen at the car park where student Alex Chow, 22, fell during a recent protest in the Tseung Kwan O area on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong on November 9, 2019. Thousands of Hong Kongers held vigils for a student who died from a fall during recent protester clashes with police, triggering fresh outrage from the pro-democracy movement and renewed violence. Photo: Laurel Chor/AFP.
A police van drives past graffiti sprayed onto a pedestrian crossing by protesters in the Mong Kok district of Kowloon in Hong Kong on October 27, 2019. Hong Kong was gripped by another day of petrol bombs and tear gas on October 27 as police and pro-democracy protesters clashed for hours throughout a popular tourist district. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
This view obscured by a rope to set apart the media shows Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam taking part in a press conference in Hong Kong on October 4, 2019. Hong Kong’s leader on October 4 invoked a rarely used colonial-era emergency law to ban people from wearing face masks in a bid to put an end to months of violent protests. Photo: Philip Fong/AFP.
Protesters run from police during clashes in the Wanchai district in Hong Kong on October 1, 2019, as the city observes the National Day holiday to mark the 70th anniversary of communist China’s founding. Strife-torn Hong Kong on October 1 marked the 70th anniversary of communist China’s founding with defiant “Day of Grief” protests and fresh clashes with police as pro-democracy activists ignored a ban and took to the streets across the city. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
A man is detained by Hong Kong police during a protest in the Causeway Bay shopping district in Hong Kong on September 29, 2019. Hong Kong descended into a second day of clashes between pro-democracy protesters and riot police on September 29 as activists step up their nearly four months campaign ahead of the 70th anniversary of communist China’s founding. Photo: Philip Fong/AFP.
A protester sets fire to the Chinese national flag in the Sha Tin district of Hong Kong on October 1, 2019, as violent demonstrations take place in the streets of the city on the National Day holiday to mark the 70th anniversary of communist China’s founding. Strife-torn Hong Kong on October 1 marked the 70th anniversary of communist China’s founding with defiant “Day of Grief” protests and fresh clashes with police as pro-democracy activists ignored a ban and took to the streets across the city. Photo: Isaac Lawrence/AFP.
A protester throws a molotov cocktail over a barricade outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on September 15, 2019. Millions of people have taken part in demonstrations over the last three months which have morphed into calls for democracy and complaints against the erosion of freedoms under Beijing’s rule. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
A large banner is displayed after it was unfurled as students gather below at a shopping mall in the Lok Fu area of Hong Kong on September 23, 2019, to sing a recently penned protest song titled ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ which has been gaining popularity in the city. A defiant protest anthem penned by an anonymous composer has become the unofficial new soundtrack to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, belted out by crowds at flashmobs in malls, on the streets and in the football stands. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
A cellist (C) wears a mask and goggles as he performs in a flash mob concert at City University in Hong Kong on September 18, 2019. As pro-democracy protests grind on for a fourth month, Hong Kong has been left counting the cost, with the city’s tourist industry battered and businesses forced to lay off staff as they struggle to stay afloat. Photo: Philip Fong/AFP.
Police fire a water cannon outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on August 31, 2019, in the latest opposition to a planned extradition law that has since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city. Chaos engulfed Hong Kong’s financial heart on August 31 as police fired tear gas and water cannon at petrol bomb-throwing protesters, who defied a ban on rallying — and mounting threats from China — to take to the streets for a 13th straight weekend. Photo: Philip Fong/AFP.
Protesters react after police fired tear gas outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on August 31, 2019. Chaos engulfed Hong Kong’s financial heart on August 31 as police fired tear gas and water cannon at petrol bomb-throwing protesters, who defied a ban on rallying — and mounting threats from China — to take to the streets for a 13th straight weekend. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.
Protesters gather on a road near Hong Kong International Airport on September 1, 2019. Hundreds of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists attempted to block transport routes to the city’s airport on September 1, as the financial hub began cleaning up after another night of serious violence marked by fires, tears gas and police beatings. Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP.
Students cross a road as they head to school after participating in a joint ‘school human chain rally’ in Hong Kong on September 12, 2019. Hong Kong’s secondary schools have become the latest ideological battleground for pro-democracy protesters with thousands of students taking part in human chain rallies since the new academic year kicked off. Photo: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP.
Police fire tear gas at protesters on Hennessy Road, in Hong Kong on August 31, 2019, in the latest opposition to a planned extradition law that has since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city. Chaos engulfed Hong Kong’s financial heart on August 31 as police fired tear gas and water cannon at petrol bomb-throwing protesters, who defied a ban on rallying — and mounting threats from China — to take to the streets for a 13th straight weekend. Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP.

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