Is Beijing using the Triads to destroy the Hong Kong protest movement?
Pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong were attacked by dozens of men at two protest sites, injuring 18 and destroying their encampments.
Police arrested 19 of the attackers and identified several as members of the Chinese Triads - gangsters who may have been hired by the mainland Chinese government to do their dirty work for them.
The protesters said the attackers were pro-government gangs, and several protest groups called off planned negotiations with the government in response.
Crowds of residents, fed up with the inconveniences of the protests, had cheered on the attacks on the camps.
On Saturday morning, a police spokesman said 19 men, including eight with links to organized crime syndicates, or triads, had been arrested in connection with the violence in one of the districts, Mong Kok, according to Radio Television Hong Kong.
The police also said that at least 18 people had been injured in the violence, including six police officers.
I wouldn't expend much sympathy for these protestors. They aren't really agitating for "democracy" as we understand it. Rather, they want Beijing to live up to its agreement to allow for a limited kind of self rule. Most of the protestors are anti-capitalist Occupy types who would destroy the Hong Kong economy if they could.
Having said that, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And anything to makes Beijing look bad is a good thing.
Apparently, though, the people of Hong Kong have had enough of the disruptions:
The skirmishing opened in the Mong Kok neighborhood, a hive of shops, apartment blocks and hotels that is one of the world’s mostly densely populated places, and quickly turned ugly. As skies darkened and rain fell, a few dozen men stormed a protest encampment in the middle of a major thoroughfare usually packed with traffic and shoppers.
They shoved and punched protesters, sometimes kicking them after they fell. Others grabbed the scaffolding of canopies and pulled them down until the tents collapsed . Residents said the police were outnumbered and slow to react, and hours passed before reinforcements arrived to protect the protesters from a hostile crowd.
Some threw cans and plastic bottles at the protesters; others spit at them. One protester was led away bleeding from his head as angry residents pressed forward, hurling insults and threats. Another was rushed out on a stretcher, an oxygen mask on his face. Several protesters said the attackers groped and sexually harassed female protesters, and Amnesty International alleged that police officers watched and did nothing.
As fistfights broke out, onlookers snapped photos and the crowds cheered. “Clear this out! Clear this out!” those opposed to the sit-in chanted.
One attacker, Jones Lam, a 63-year-old retiree, said his motive was simple. “They blocked the road,” he said of the protesters. “They blocked the people going to work.”
Brawls broke out at another protest encampment, in Causeway Bay, a busy shopping district, as tourists hustled by clutching shopping bags.
While the mainland communists are capable of just about anything, the involvement of the Triads could be because the protestors are damaging their illicit businesses. Some areas of Hong Kong have come to a standstill because of the sit ins which might be affecting the Triad's bottom line in the drug and prostitution trades.
Beijing may make some cosmetic changes to the way candidates will be chosen to run in next year's election, but they are not likely to give the protestors everything they want. The demonstrations will continue and the likelihood of a crackdown grows daily.