‘Raptor’ attack shocks Hong Kong
WARNING: Graphic content
Shocking new video of the Hong Kong protests and police brutality has gone viral in what marks some of the worst violence in three months of anti-government protests.
The footage, taken from last weekend's spate of protests, shows masked passengers on the floor inside a train carriage, huddled and cowering as special forces police storm the train at the busy Prince Edward station.
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Members of the Special Tactical Squad, known as "raptors", stand at the doorways of the carriage, preventing their escape, then spray pepper spray directly at the screaming passengers as they are backed up against the wall.
The same footage shows masked protesters trying to fend them off with umbrellas.
A station announcer can be heard repeatedly calling out it is an emergency.
Other footage shared from the latest round of protests shows several commuters bleeding from head wounds and officers wrestling demonstrators to the ground and tying them up.
Superintendent Tsui Suk-yee said 63 people had been arrested, including 54 men and nine women aged 13-36, at Prince Edward and Mong Kok MTR stations.
The protesters were arrested for criminal damage, possessing offensive weapons, illegal assembly and possessing explosive substances. An investigation is still ongoing.
In a press conference, police argued they entered the station at the railway's request in response to allegations protesters were vandalising ticket machines and fighting passengers on the train.
"We disagree with the allegations that police officers entered the MTR stations to beat people up," a police spokeswoman told the South China Morning Post.
"The officers used their professional experience to distinguish protesters who had changed clothes from ordinary commuters."
Hong Kong has entered its 13th consecutive weekend of protests.
On Sunday, thousands of protesters blocked roads and public transport links to the territory's international airport in an attempt to draw global attention to their fight against China's growing political influence.
Citizens are bracing for further disruption today with calls for a general strike and university students threatening to boycott classes.
Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific has warned staff they risk being sacked if they join today's strike after the last walkout was supported by the airline's flight attendant union.
Cathay has already fired at least four staff - including two pilots - for supporting the protests.
Hong Kong's reputation as a stable place to do business has been shaken by the ongoing protests.
Visitor arrivals have plummeted, hotel vacancies have soared and retailers have reported huge losses as a result of the protests, but the Government has offered little in the way of concessions or suggestions on how to end them.
Hong Kong Police has repeatedly warned all protesters to stop the demonstrations.
"At around 4pm, a large group hurled numerous iron poles, bricks and rocks into the track near the airport station," they wrote on Twitter. "Some even trespassed on the track, seriously obstructing train services.
"Some radical (protesters have) blocked multiple roads in Tung Chung, set fire to barricades and a national flag. Such acts have paralysed traffic.
"Since around 5.30pm, some violent protesters have committed destructive acts extensively inside the Tung Chung MTR station.
"They dismantled CCTV cameras and turnstiles, smashed glass panes of a service centre and damaged fire facilities therein."
Police said, in light of the situation, they would "conduct a dispersal operation and warn all protesters to leave".
WHY IS HONG KONG PROTESTING?
The demonstrations started as a protest against a proposed extradition bill that would send criminal suspects to China but have since become more widely about opposition to the mainland's growing political influence overall.
When Hong Kong was handed over from Britain to China in 1997, it was agreed the territory would be allowed to maintain its unique freedoms and civil liberties for the next 50 years - a deal the protesters believe has not been honoured by Beijing.
The protesters believe China has gradually been whittling away their liberties since the handover, including suppressing the "Umbrella Movement" in 2014 and kidnapping five Hong Kong booksellers.
With the ongoing protests, demonstrators are now pushing for the right to directly elect their own government, for an independent commission to investigate police brutality, and they want the territory's leader, Carrie Lam - who was hand-picked by the Chinese Government - to resign.