A total of 10 people were injured in Hong Kong during a police clearance operation on Saturday after thousands of protesters occupied roads in Kwun Tong, Kowloon Bay and Wong Tai Sin in Kowloon.

A man was shot in his eye by rubber bullets. Photo: RTHK

Two men were in a serious condition while three others were in a stable condition, according to the Hospital Authority. One man was hit in his left eye by a rubber bullet. Another five people left the hospital after treatment.

At least 17 were arrested on Saturday, including Ventus Lau Wing-hong, the founding convenor of the Community Network Union, who organized a legal rally in Kwun Tong on the same day.

On Saturday afternoon, tens of thousands joined a legal protest in Kwun Tong to urge the government to respond to their five demands, as well as to make people aware of privacy issues linked to the government’s “smart lamp posts” initiative.

Protesters began a march at 1.30pm at the Tsun Yip Street Playground and walked to the Zero Carbon Building in Kowloon Bay via Hoi Bun Road. Many protesters said they were provoked by the MTR Corp, which decided to suspend its services between Choi Hung and Tiu Keng Leng due to “safety reasons” from noon.

Ventus Lau accused the MTR Corp of colluding with the police and the Hong Kong government and trying to stop people from reaching the protest site in Kwun Tong.

MTR operations director Adi Lau Tin-shing said the decision to close several stations was a “last resort” measure as some “reckless protesters” had damaged CCTV cameras, vandalized stations, tampered with ticket gates and jumped over them in the past few weeks.

On August 11, riot police fired tear gas in Kwai Fong station to disperse protesters. On August 22, about 200 protesters went to the same station and asked for an explanation on why the MTR Corp had allowed the police to use tear gas in the station. When the company failed to give a response, protesters blocked entry gates and damaged CCTV cameras.

On August 18, the MTR Corp shut down several stations near Causeway Bay as there was a legal protest in the Victoria Park. An estimated total of 1.7 million people joined the rally.

The MTR Corp is called ‘the (Chinese Communist) Party’s train.’ Photo: Asia Times

While MTR services were suspended on Saturday, some people went online and circulated a picture showing the MTR had arranged a special train to transport riot police.

Protesters mocked the MTR Corp as “the (Chinese Communist) party’s train,” according to some graffiti.

A smart lamp post pulled down by protesters. Photo: RTHK

At about 2:30pm on Saturday, some Kwun Tong protesters arrived at Ngau Tau Kok police station on Wai Yip Street. They pulled down a smart lamp post and found it contained components provided by a supplier of Skynet, China’s mass surveillance project. The government later said the smart lamp posts do not carry any facial recognition function and would not infringe upon personal privacy.

The damaged smart lamppost was removed by the Lands Department in the evening on August 24. Photo: Asia Times

The protesters had a stand-off with the police for more than an hour on Wai Yip Street. At 4pm, police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and sponge grenades at protesters, but they faced strong resistance from the demonstrators, who threw bamboo sticks, bricks and a few gas bombs at them.

During the clearance operation, a protester was seen being pulled to the ground by police and hit on the head with batons.

Protesters then went to Kowloon Bay and had another stand-off with police. One police officer was heard giving commands in Putonghua, fueling protesters’ speculation that some armed mainland police had been deployed to Hong Kong.

After some clashes, protesters went to Telford Plaza, a middle-class private piece of real estate. After being slammed for disrupting the community while getting paid by taxpayers, a police officer asked “how much tax have you paid?” and then he and his team members fired rubber bullets and pepper-spray balls at the crowd.

Between 6pm and 7pm, police fired several rounds of tear gas at protesters on Wai Yip Street. Hundreds of protesters retreated to Kwun Tong. At 8pm, they moved to Wong Tai Sin and blocked Lung Cheung Road. Police dispersed them with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Riot police with full gear in Wong Tai Sin Photo: Asia Times

Some smaller scale stand-offs continued near the Wong Tai Sin Disciplined Services Quarters and the Sham Shui Po Police Station until the two districts were struck by heavy rain and a storm at midnight.

A person who was there later uploaded a photo showing some jacketed hollow point bullets were left on the street in Wong Tai Sin.

The Hong Kong government strongly condemned the “vandalistic and violent acts” of the protesters, according to a statement.

At 3pm on Sunday, a legal march was held between Kwai Chung and Tsuen Wan. The Kwai Fong and Tsuen Wan stations on the Tsuen Wan line and the West Rail line’s Tsuen Wan West station were temporarily closed from 1:30pm, said the MTR.

For the first time police used two water cannons in the streets of Tsuen Wan on Sunday, as they tried to disperse anti-government protesters in the area. 

The vehicles were used on Yeung Uk Road and Tai Ho Road after some protesters hurled bricks and Molotov cocktails towards riot police.

Officers tested the cannons by spraying water at makeshift barricades set up by protesters, according to RTHK. 

Marchers begin their rally at the Kwai Chung Sports Ground at 3pm on August 25. Photo: RTHK