Rally for Uighurs turns chaotic as HK cops clash with protesters
HONG KONG: Riot police in Hong Kong pepper-sprayed protesters to disperse crowds in the heart of the city's financial district yesterday after a largely peaceful rally in support of China's ethnic Uighurs turned chaotic.
The police faced off with protesters who hurled glass bottles and rocks at them.
Earlier that day, more than 1,000 people rallied calmly, waving Uighur flags and posters, as they took part in the latest protest in more than six months of unrest.
A mixed crowd of young and older people, in black and wearing masks, held up signs reading "Free Uighur, Free Hong Kong" and "Fake 'autonomy' in China results in genocide".
The protest comes after footballer Mesut Ozil of English football club Arsenal caused a furore in China after he criticised the country's policies toward the Muslim ethnic minority in the restive northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Ozil tweeted that Uighurs were "warriors who resist persecution" and criticised both China's strong hand in Xinjiang and the relative silence of Muslims in response.
"I think basic freedom and independence should exist for all people, not just for Hong Kong," said a 41-year-old woman, who attended the protest with her husband.
United Nations experts and activists say at least a million Uighurs and members of other largely Muslim minority groups have been detained in camps in Xinjiang since 2017.
Beijing said it is providing vocational training to help stamp out separatism and to teach new skills.
It denies any mistreatment of Uighurs. - REUTERS