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17 Dec 2019 2:08
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  •   Home > News > International

    Hong Kong protesters using catapults, archery bows and Molotov cocktails in battle for 'democracy and freedom'

    At one of Hong Kong's top universities, student protesters are producing Molotov cocktails on an almost industrial scale, while others are using catapults and bows to fire rocks and arrows at police. This is what it's like on the front line.


    On the terrace of Hong Kong Polytechnic University's main building, three young men — barely past their teenage years — are launching rocks from a catapult.

    The makeshift device looks dubious, but with each go, they manage to propel the rocks a little bit further towards a police water cannon truck below.

    "We are just defending ourselves from the riot police," the 20-year-old loading the rocks into the construction-worker helmet said.

    Like most Hong Kong frontline protesters, he declined to give his name.

    "They are firing tear gas at us, so we use this to deter them from coming into the campus," he said.

    For police officers, the catapult is less a symbol of the creativity of the protesters and more a potentially deadly weapon they have to contend with.

    The same goes for Molotov cocktails.

    Some protesters first started flinging them at police in July, in what was then seen as a controversial escalation among protesters.

    Now the students at Poly U, and on other campuses, are manufacturing them on an almost industrial scale.

    Teenagers cart styrofoam boxes of them around, leaving them strategically placed throughout the entrances of the campus.

    Recipes for how to mix them are taped on walls.

    The widespread use of such weapons has prompted police to call the protesters "terrorists", and the firebombs have been remarkably effective in stalling police attempts to break through protester lines at Poly U.

    One attempt to clear a bridge strewn with barricades ended when protesters set a police armoured vehicle on fire, forcing them to retreat as flames licked the windshield.

    Also spotted among the student protesters — archery bows.

    Up until this past weekend, the protesters trawling the frontlines with the archery gear appeared a bit gimmicky.

    But the wounding of a police officer during the stand-off at the university showed otherwise.

    It is not just police aghast at the escalating violence of the protesters, many citizens say it has gone well beyond its original purpose.

    But a recent public opinion poll from a university found 80 per cent of respondents lay the blame for the escalating violence on the city's Government, partly explaining why the protesters retain much support.

    "While we are physically tired, we are not mentally tired," a 19-year-old protester at Polytechnic University said.

    "We are fighting for democracy and freedom."

    Up until now, police have mostly used rubber bullets and tear gas against the crowds, but as protesters raise the stakes with their expanding arsenal police may respond in kind.

    Hong Kong police posted a video to Facebook overnight warning protesters to lay down their weapons.

    "We are asking the rioters to stop assaulting the police using cars, gas bombs and bows and arrows," the post said.

    "Otherwise we will use force, including live rounds."

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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