August 08, 2019

Hong Kong protesters produce laser show over arrest of demonstrator shining pointer at police
Activists in Hong Kong shined laser pointers into the sky for a unique light show to protest a student arrest, as mass anti-government demonstrations continue in the city, prompting the UK to update their travel alerts. police and protesters have both turned to bright lights – lasers, strobe lights, flashlights – to irritate each other. The intense beams are often dappled amidst clouds of tear gas smoke shot by riot police amid violent clashes. For demonstrators, the laser pointers have also been a way to confuse surveillance cameras to interfere with facial recognition technology.  On Tuesday, a student found with 10 laser pointers was arrested for possessing an “offensive weapon" which police have said can damage a person’s eyes or start fires. In an amusing effort to scorn police claims, protesters cleared store shelves of laser pointers, flickering green, purple and red lasers the city’s dome-shaped Space Museum. The idea was to mock the police by attempting to start a fire; no fire erupted Wednesday night. A policeman uses a speakerphone to ask residents and protesters to disperse during a protest at Sham Shui Po on Wednesday night Credit:  Vincent Thian/ AP Mass demonstrations have rocked Hong Kong all summer with near-daily rallies often ending as the sky darkens with volleys of tear gas and sprays of rubber bullets.  The UK updated its travel advisory for Hong Kong on Wednesday, urging visitors to “remain vigilant,” noting that while most demonstrations have been peaceful, unauthorised gatherings spilling into many neighbourhoods “are met by a more rapid and more severe police response”. Other countries including the US, Australia, Japan and Singapore have also issued similar travel warnings. Anti-government protesters first took to the streets against an extradition proposal that would have sent suspects to face trial in mainland China, where Communist Party control of the courts contributes to a 99.9 per cent conviction rate.  A woman uses a laser pointer beam on policemen as they face off at Sham Shui Po district Credit:  Vincent Thian/ AP City leaders suspended the legislation but it wasn’t enough to appease protesters, who continue to demand a formal withdrawal; the fear is a suspension leaves the door open for the government to quickly table and pass the legislation in the future. Demands have also expanded to include an independent investigation into police actions during the protests, release of protesters arrested, and direct leadership elections. For many Hong Kongers, the broad political movement is aimed at preserving the freedoms – guaranteed under a 50-year agreement when the British colony was returned to Beijing – which they feel are threatened under Chinese Communist rule. At least three police officers have undergone medical treatment after protesters shined lasers at them. “Even if the laser is not strong enough to cause injury, strong light exposure can cause flash blind,” said chief superintendent John Tse.
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