Hundreds of protesters disrupted subway stations across Hong Kong during the busy morning commute Tuesday, blocking carriage doors and preventing the trains from leaving. Harried passengers faced transportation chaos as groups of demonstrators flooded the platforms and forced service delays or partial suspensions.
Protests have rocked Asia’s financial capital for eight consecutive weeks in a movement that has pitted demonstrators against the city’s Beijing-back administration. Increasingly, the protests have pursued tactics that interrupt daily life in the city.
Tuesday morning’s train disruptions, the second in a week, followed a sit-in at the city’s international airport on Friday, as well as rallies that ended in violent clashes and police firing tear gas in residential areas on Saturday and Sunday.
While the protests were sparked in June by an extradition bill that has since been suspended, the movement has morphed into a broader revolt against the Chinese government’s control over the semi-autonomous enclave. Beijing has maintained its support for the police and the city’s embattled leader.
The train disruptions also come the day after a spokesperson for China’s top policy office in Hong Kong called an unprecedented press conference to denounce the protesters.
Videos on social media showed protesters obstructing train doors at the Tiu Keng Leng station before 8 a.m. Tuesday. For several minutes the train was unable to shut the doors and leave.
The tactic was repeated across several other stations, and Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) reported backlogs and interruptions due to a number of incidents “involving train door obstruction.” The MTR said free shuttle buses would be provided at the impeded stops.
In some areas, heated disputes between passengers anxious to leave the platform and protesters broke out.
By lunchtime, the MTR website continued to show some service delays on the Island and the West Rail lines, which run through the city’s central financial district and out toward suburbs near the Chinese border, respectively.