In a move seemingly designed to piss off every working stiff in Hong Kong, anti-extradition protesters today blocked the doors of MTR trains at the height of rush hour, causing long delays for thousands of commuters in protest of what they characterized as the MTR’s inadequate response to Sunday’s violent clashes in Yuen Long.
Starting at about 8:20am, protesters prevented Chai Wan-bound trains from leaving an Island Line platform at Admiralty by putting their putting their shoulders in the doorway, or sitting in the platform doors.
MTR Corp announced 10- to 15-minute delays for trains running between Chai Wan and Kennedy Town — through the city’s central business districts — noting that the emergency button on board had also been repeatedly pressed.
The guerrilla protest came days after a group of men in white shirts laid siege to the Yuen Long MTR station on Sunday evening and savagely attacked anti-government protesters returning home from a major rally that took place on Hong Kong Island that afternoon. Journalists, a lawmaker, and numerous everyday commuters were also caught up in the indiscriminate violence, over which at least six people have so far been arrested, including some with triad backgrounds.
While most of the protesters’ rage was reserved for police, who were conspicuously absent as the onslaught wore on for more than half an hour, some were also angry at MTR Corp for not doing enough to protect its passengers, accusing it of “allowing thugs to attack innocent citizens,” and demanding answers from the city’s railway operator.
Show up at 7:30am tomorrow (24 July) at Admiralty MTR station to protest against the MTR for allowing thugs to attack innocent citizens at Yuen Long MTR station and in train on 21 July pic.twitter.com/nKyUVw7yPo
— Missy Lao (@missy_lao) July 23, 2019
The MTR has said in a statement that its control center first became aware of the situation at Yuen Long at 10:45pm, and called police two minutes later, only to be told that they were already informed of the violence. Trains started by bypassing the station at 11pm, and the station was closed early, at around 11:55pm, but the armed thugs forced their way back inside.
It’s unclear how many people actually took part in today’s protest, but the service disruptions left thousands of people across Hong Kong Island waiting on packed platforms and in stationary trains.
In an RTHK livefeed from Admiralty, protesters can be heard yelling “MTR, shame on you!” and “dirty cops shame on you!” on the station platform.
Passengers who spoke to RTHK were surprisingly sanguine
One commuter, who gave her name as Esther Ling, told RTHK that she needed to go to Wan Chai and was 20 minutes late, but didn’t mind the delay.
Another, an IT worker surnamed Ng, who was on his way to Quarry Bay for work, said: “Other people were seriously injured in these protests; me being late for work is nothing.”
Some online commenters, however, were less charitable.
“This causes a lot of trouble to others who have the right to use this public service,” one said.
Another cheekily pointed out that police were much quicker to respond this morning than they were at Yuen Long, though it didn’t appear that any arrests were made.
At around 9:30am, services appeared to be returning to normal.