'Sorry for the inconvenience': Hong Kong protesters apologized to furious passengers after the city's airport was paralyzed for a second day

Sinéad Baker
Hong Kong airport protests

REUTERS/Issei Kato


  • Passengers squared off with protesters as they tried to reach their flights at Hong Kong International Airport as pro-democracy demonstrations continue.
  • Hundreds of flights were cancelled Tuesday as protesters blocked departure gates, and some passengers who were still trying to make their planes became frustrated.
  • Protesters apologized for the disruption but said they are "fighting for our freedom" and held signs alleging police brutality and explaining their demands.
  • Protests in the city have been ongoing for 10 weeks, sparked by frustration over a proposed extradition bill and Hong Kong residents' desire to keep their democratic system. They have increasingly focused on police actions.
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Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong blocked passengers as they tried to travel through the city's airport, causing frustration and in some cases arguments as protesters tried to apologize or explain the ongoing demonstrations.

Authorities cancelled hundreds of flights to and from Hong Kong International Airport — a major international hub — on Tuesday in what was the second day that the airport's operations were crippled by protesters.

Tuesday marked the fifth day in a row that the airport was occupied by protesters.

As travellers tried to navigate through the airport for remaining flights, protesters held up signs alleging police brutality and apologizing to travellers. They said the protests were needed to secure the future of Hong Kong, and many looked for international support for their efforts.

Read more: Hong Kong protesters paralyze airport for 2nd day as they continue to occupy departure hall

"Sorry for the inconvenience caused. We are fighting for our freedom," one sign read.

"Sorry for the inconvenience. We are fighting for the future of our home," said another.

hong kong protests airport

AP Photo/Kin Cheung

Hong Kong protests airport

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Some protesters held signs outlining the protesters' five key demands:

  • The complete withdrawal of the proposed bill that would allow Hong Kong residents to be extradited to mainland China.
  • An independent investigation into police behaviour during the protests.
  • The release of protesters that were arrested during the protests the charges against them dropped.
  • The government withdrawing the use of the word "riot" when talking about the protests.
  • The implementation of genuine universal suffrage.

But some passengers faced off with the protesters, angered by the disruption caused.

One airline employee told CNN that many people in the airport are upset, and that some are children and elderly people. Another traveller told CNN that she thought the protesters' actions would turn public opinion against them.

hong kong protests airport

AP Photo/Vincent Thian

"This is ridiculous. If you want to fight the issues, that's fair, but you are making the people turn against you," the woman, who was travelling with a child, said. 

You are ruining your own country and you all have to live with this. In 20 years it will be China whether you like it or not. You may want to be careful about how you go about things.

Protesters have used luggage carts to block departure gates, intending to send a message to the government and the police.

Tweet Embed:
//twitter.com/mims/statuses/1161206561458384896?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Breaking at #HongKongAirport - #antiEALB protesters stage sit-in in front of departure gates which are now blocked. No passengers can get through. More flights expected to be called off later on. #HongKongProtestspic.twitter.com/0x3tl9uxGa

 

One woman tried to break through while shouting "I want to go home," the South China Morning Post reported.

Another woman, from Thailand, said: "You can fight with your government, but not me, understand? I just want to go home!

"We pay money to your country but you do this to us … we will never come here again," she said, according to SCMP.

Hong Kong protests

AP Photo/Vincent Thian

Protesters have also covered the airport in art in support of the protests, which are also being shared widely online.

Video footage shared on Monday showed a man angrily confronting protesters, who then explain the difference between Hong Kong and mainland China and Hong Kong's distinct "one country, two systems" political structure, as well as outlining the protesters' demands.

Tweet Embed:
//twitter.com/mims/statuses/1161273330713784320?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Clearly, this is not why this #Chinese state backed media outlet posted this video, but all I see is an angry passenger (partly justified) & calm young #protesters who want to reason, educate & explain their cause that led to his inconvenience to begin with.#HongKong#HKIAhttps://t.co/SnTIRbKtsi

One protester told the man that he was just upset because of the disruption to his flight.

The protesters met people arriving into the airport on Monday with signs telling them to not trust the police, and warn them to be careful.

Hong Kong Protests Airport

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Some passengers also expressed their support for the protests. Pablo Cacara, a traveller from Slovakia, said he had been stuck in Hong Kong since Monday evening but understood the purpose of the protests, the UK's The Guardian newspaper reported. He said: "This is just a small problem, the problem they are trying to solve is much much bigger."

Read more: Videos show a massive procession of Chinese military vehicles gathering along the Hong Kong border as China mulls over its next move in response to protests

The SCMP reported that more than 300 flights were cancelled on Tuesday, and the airport typically handles around 800 flights a day.

Riot police arrived at the airport later on Tuesday, and then retreated.

Read more: Violence breaks out at the Hong Kong airport as riot police clash with protesters

Hong Kong airport protest

REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Protesters in the airport brought attention to police treatment of those who took part in the city's protests against Chinese rule, which have continued for 10 weeks. Many held signs and covered their eyes to reference a medic who was allegedly blinded in one eye after police shot into a crowd on Saturday night.

Tweet Embed:
//twitter.com/mims/statuses/1161217314223603714?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Protesters are standing covering their eye in honour of a woman who was hit in the eye by Hong Kong police - an event that triggered the airport protests today and yesterday pic.twitter.com/sCIea2KYBK

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong s's chief executive, said on Tuesday that protesters risked pushing the city "further into the abyss."

Hong Kong protests airports

AP Photo/Vincent Thian

She said that Hong Kong is "seriously wounded" and "will take a long time to recover."

Read more: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam warns against pushing the city into the 'abyss' as protesters force airport to cancel hundreds more flights

The United Nations on Tuesday said that evidence of police using tear gas and "creating a considerable risk of death or serious injury," as well as "credible evidence of law enforcement officials employing less-lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by international norms and standard," should be investigated.

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