Aug. 13 (UPI) — The Hong Kong Airport Authority said it has obtained an interim court order barring protesters from demonstrating at the island’s airport except in designated areas.
The Airport Authority said in a statement to South China Morning Post that the injunction prohibits the unlawful obstruction or interference with airport operations.
Notice of the injunction comes as the Hong Kong International Airport resumes operation after having suspended all afternoon departures and over a hundred arrivals on Tuesday as thousands of pro-democracy protesters swarmed the airport.
The protest became violent resulting in several injuries and five arrests after demonstrators assaulted a man they believed was an undercover mainland agent, prompting riot police to descend upon the airport.
In a statement published on Facebook during the incident, the Hong Kong Police Force urged protesters to allow those injured to receive medical attention.
“The police stress that this is not an operation to disperse those assembled but is for extricating the visitor safely,” it said.
The police force said Wednesday that it was responding to a request from the airport authority to assist ambulance officers in extracting the injured person.
“However, numerous protesters continuously hurled miscellaneous objects and aimed laser beams at police officers, during which a police officer was assaulted and his baton was snatched,” it said.
A second victim, a male journalist, was also “violently treated” by protesters during the night, police said.
The journalist was searched and had his hands tied behind his back by protesters believing he was also sent from the mainland, the Hong Kong Free Press reported.
The two victims were escorted from the airport and transferred to local hospitals, police said.
During the clash, police used pepper spray and the officer who had his baton seized pulled a firearm on protesters after being assaulted.
Those arrested were charged with unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons, assault of police officers and breach of peace, police said.
Protesters had been demonstrating for five straight days at the airport when the violence erupted, with many vowing to return for a sixth day.
However, fewer than 50 protesters were present early Wednesday.
The Airport Authority said in a statement it was up and running but flight movements were expected. As of midday, 51 departure and 61 arrival flights had been canceled, substantially fewer than experienced over the past two days.
The airport has become the latest battleground for protesters who have been demanding the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill that would allow for specific refugees from mainland justice be removed from Hong Kong to face Beijing courts. While the administration views the bill, which has since been shelved, as a way to prevent the island from becoming a safe haven for mainland criminals, protesters see it as a stripping away of freedoms Hong Kong enjoys under its “one country, two systems” governance model that China does not.
Since the protests erupted in early June, demonstrators’ accusations of police brutality and being ignored by politicians have evolved the movement to encompass pro-democracy demands that include the resignation of the island’s chief administrator, Carrie Lam.
Worries of Chinese military intervention in the situation have grown since Aug. 1, when Chen Daoqian, commander of the People’s Liberation Army, Hong Kong garrison, made the army’s first comment on the protests — in which he expressed the military’s “strong condemnation”— during a ceremony where a video that contained footage of the military conducting drills to quell protests was shown.
However, on Tuesday night, U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed that the Chinese government was deploying troops to the Hong Kong border, suggesting the military will intervene if protests on the island do not calm.
“Our intelligence has informed us that the Chinese government is moving troops to the border with Hong Kong,” Trump said via Twitter. “Everyone should be calm and safe!”
Chinese state and social media the Global Times and the People’s Daily also aired video Tuesday of security forces congregating at the border, the Hong Kong Free Press reported.
“The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation,” Trump told reporters on Tuesday. “Very tough. We’ll see what happens. but I’m sure it’ll work out. I hope it works out for everybody, including China, by the way. I hope it works out for everybody.”
China has repeatedly charged the United States of interfering in the protests. On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the United States had “whitewashed” the protests as “a struggle for human rights and freedom” while misrepresenting the police as violently oppressing the Hong Kong people.
“They even incited the Hong Kong resident to engage in confrontation with the [special administrative region] government and the central government,” she said in a statement. “How anxious are they to instigate and see chaos!”
She then urged the United States to leave the situation alone.
“We solemnly remind you this plain truth: Hong Kong affairs are entirely China’s internal affairs, and you are neither entitled nor qualified to wantonly comment on them,” she said. “Mind your own business and stay out of Hong Kong affairs.”
Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet confirmed in a statement to CNN that two of its ships had been denied Hong Kong port visits, despite having a long history of successful port visits to the island.
“The Chinese government denied requests for port visits to Hong Kong by the U.S.S. Green Bay and U.S.S. Lake Eire, which were scheduled to arrive in the next few weeks,” Cmdr. Nate Christensen, deputy spokesman for the Pacific Fleet.