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Hong Kong protester’s pleas to let young woman go past airport departure gate falls on deaf ears

She made an emotional plea, but the protesters were unyielding.

Kayla Wong | August 15, 04:40 pm

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Thousands of protesters clad in their signature black t-shirts occupied Hong Kong International Airport for two consecutive days on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 12 and 13.

The large-scale sit-in resulted in the cancellation of multiple flights.

Protesters blocked entrance to departure hall

The second day of demonstrations were decidedly much more chaotic.

Protesters had blocked the area in front of the departure gate, resulting in several arguments between protesters and travellers who were trying to get past them to catch their flights.

Many were upset that they were forced to miss their flights because of a domestic struggle within Hong Kong that has nothing to do with them.

A woman who claimed to have joined previous protests also pleaded with fellow protesters to let an 18-year-old foreigner pass through.

A protester could be seen holding up a placard that read, “Sorry for inconvenience”, while another held up one that said, “Blame the HK government”.

The exchange in Cantonese was captured in a video by BBC News (Chinese), and was trending on YouTube (Singapore) at the 11th spot on Thursday, Aug. 15.

It is unknown if the foreign visitor managed to catch her flight in the end.

Emotional exchange

Here’s the translated version of the exchange between the woman and the protesters as uploaded by BBC News (Chinese).

The video started with the woman saying:

“She wants to leave but she can’t. She’s now stuck here alone, and she’s only 18 years old.

She wants to return home, she wants to go back to England.

Her flight is at 11am, I’d like to ask if you can let her pass through?

We’re all young people here. If this happened to you, if you were stranded at an overseas airport, and had nothing with you, how would you feel?

Are we trying to pressure the government to take action, or are we trying to inconvenience everyone and stop them from going home?

I’ve participated in every protest, but I’ve never wanted to affect those who have nothing got to do with this.”

A protester then responded, “What about the hundreds of people who were arrested for protesting on the streets?”

The woman then continued:

“I’ve went to every rally that denounced the actions of the ‘black police’, and used this microphone here to call out their actions.

But the question here is why are we making those who are innocent suffer?

“Blame the government!”

The same protester said, “Why are these things happening then?”

The woman replied:

“I ask myself every day. But in the press conference that (Chief Executive) Carrie Lam held today, she still refuses to speak to us.

Yes, we should be pressuring her to do something. But why, why are we stopping her from going home?”

Two other protesters shouted, “If you want to blame someone, blame the government!”

“You think we want to be like this?”

After several more protesters started chiming in, the woman said emotionally, “Yes, I know (what you’re saying).”

When a protester asked her to “get Lam to come down”, she said, “Are 10 of you going to scold me now? I’m not Lam.”

“I just want to ask one question. Can you let this young girl through?”

If one goes through, they’ll have to let everyone else go through

In response to her plea, a protester shouted, “If one person goes in, then everyone will have to go in.”

A female protester next said, “Everyone needs to go through as well.”

The woman then said to them, “Since you all know that everyone needs (to go through), do you really have to be so unmoving?”

The video ended with the protesters shouting in unison, “The five demands! The five demands!”

Some managed to catch their flights

However, some travellers managed to fight their way through the crowd and reach the departure gate.

One woman even became the subject of an iconic photograph that emerged from the second day of protest chaos.

Photo via PHILIP FONG/AFP/Getty Images

One of two mainland Chinese men even thanked the protesters after the pair got through.

Freelance journalist Richard Scotford, who has written for the Hong Kong Free Press, posted about a positive encounter sent to him from a traveller who managed to get through the crowd after simply talking to the protesters.

Operations resumed at Hong Kong airport

After two consecutive days of demonstrations at the Hong Kong airport, operations have resumed on Wednesday, Aug. 14.

Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said in a statement on Wednesday morning that it has obtained an interim injunction to stop people from “unlawfully and willfully obstructing” the airport’s operations.

People are also not allowed to attend or participate in any demonstration in the airport other than the area designated by the airport authority.

2-way S’pore to Hong Kong airfares at S$168

Top image via BBC News (Chinese)

About Kayla Wong

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