Photo Essays | Society | East Asia

In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

Hong Kong entered its 17th week of protests with violent clashes and an increased riot police presence in the streets.

By Alexandra Radu for
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

A protester shouts “five demands, not one less!” one of the main slogans of the pro democracy protests in Hong Kong, during an anti totalitarianism march on Sunday, September 29.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

Protesters hide behind umbrellas as rounds of tear gas are fired by riot police in the Wan Chai area on September 29.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

Hundreds of Hong Kong riot police charge at protesters after violent clashes occur at the end of an anti totalitarian march in the Queensway area on September 29.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

A protester is given first aid after a round of tear gas was fired by riot police during an anti totalitarianism rally in the Sogo area of Hong Kong on September 29.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

A protester is pinned to the ground by riot police during a wave of mass arrests in the Queensway area of Hong Kong after violences errupted at the end of an anti totalitarianism march on Sunday September 29.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

A protester bleeds after being arrested by the riot police in a mass arrest operation in the Queensway area of Hong Kong on Sunday September 29.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

The protests continued late on Sunday evening, with protesters building barricades to slow down police chasing them in the Wan Chai and Sogo areas of Hong Kong.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

Tens of thousands marched dressed in black and wearing Guy Fawkes masks during a “day of mourning” march in which protesters shouted “There is no National Day celebration, only a national tragedy,” a slogan for October 1st, that marked the 70th anniversary of the PRC.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

Protesters prepare to face the riot police during violent clashes in Hong Kong on October 1st.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

Protesters hide behind umbrellas as riot police fires rounds of tear gas during the violent clashes that took place on October 1.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

A protester runs to throw toward riot police with a lit petrol bomb during the violent clashes that took place city wide in Hong Kong on October 1, the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

Hundreds of riot police chase groups of protesters during the violent clashes that took place in Hong Kong on October 1, the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

A protester stands in front of a riot police cordon in the Wan Chai neighborhood during the violent protests on October 1. The police cordoned off various streets in the area after using rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets to scatter the crowds.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

Public transportation stations entrances were defaced in various areas of the city during the protests on October 1.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

Anti-government posters and posters depicting police brutality fill walls in the Wan Chai neighborhood of Hong Kong, where violent clashes between police and protesters took place on October 1 after a massive anti-government march.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

A protester carries bamboo poles for building a barricade in Mong Kok. MRT stations entrances and Chinese owned businesses were defaced in various neighborhoods of the city.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

Hongkongers pass in front of protest slogans painted on walls in the aftermath of the city wide protests on October 1.

Credit: Alexandra Radu
In Hong Kong: No Celebration, ‘Only a National Tragedy’

Protesters set fire to one of the exits of Mong Kok MTR station, with protests continuing long into the night on October 1, the 70th anniversary of the PRC.

Credit: Alexandra Radu

On Sunday in Hong Kong, an anti-totalitarianism march, despite a police ban, drew several thousands demonstrators. It also marked the fifth anniversary of the Umbrella Revolution, a pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong that lasted for 79 days in 2014. This weekend’s march ended in street battles, with some protesters destroying public transportation stations and Chinese owned businesses. The police responded with tear gas, beanbag rounds and a water canon to disperse the crowds; then came a wave of violent mass arrests.

On Tuesday, the grandiose National Day celebrations in Beijing marking the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and communist rule were in contrast to city-wide clashes and a “day of national mourning” march in Hong Kong.

Violence escalated, with an 18-year-old protester shot  at close range in the chest by police, the first such incident since protests began more than 17 weeks ago. The shooting, one of a reported six live rounds fired on October 1 in Hong Kong, happened when a policeman became isolated in a clash with a group of demonstrators armed with metal poles, bricks and umbrellas.

Police Chief Stephen Lo said in a late night press conference that the use of the live round was “lawful and reasonable.” 

“On Tai Ho Road in Tsuen Wan, rioters were attacking police officers, and used a sharp object to attack an officer lying on the ground,” he said. “When other officers tried to save him, protesters threw bricks at them, so when an officer felt that officers’ lives were under serious threat, he fired a live round.”

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The wounded protester was taken to the hospital in critical condition where he underwent emergency surgery. More than 60 other demonstrators were injured and hospitalized, of which 2 in critical condition, according to the Hospital Authority.

25 police officers were injured and 180 people were arrested, in what Police Chief Lo characterized as “one of Hong Kong’s most violent and chaotic days.”

Alexandra Radu is a photojournalist based in Kuala Lumpur. Her portfolio is available here.