Hong Kong police evict protesters who stormed parliament

Police firing tear gas have evicted protesters who stormed and vandalised Hong Kong’s parliament.

Activists had occupied the Legislative Council (LegCo) building for hours after breaking away from a protest on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty to China from Britain.

After midnight (16:00 GMT), hundreds of police secured the building following a warning to protesters to clear it.

It follows weeks of unrest in the city over a controversial extradition law.

Hundreds of thousands took part in the earlier peaceful protest – the latest rally against a proposed law that critics fear could be used to extradite political dissidents to mainland China.

The protesters have also been demanding an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality during an earlier protest on 12 June.

Hong Kong’s embattled political leader Carrie Lam held a press conference at 04:00 local time (20:00 GMT) in which she condemned the “extreme use of violence” of those who broke into the legislature.

Peaceful demonstrations had been planned for Monday, the 22nd anniversary of the handover of sovereignty.

A large-scale march, involving hundreds of thousands of people, took place in the city, and passed off in a largely peaceful manner.

Separately, officials from the government raised glasses of champagne at a formal ceremony celebrating the handover.

But at about lunchtime, dozens of demonstrators broke off and made their way to LegCo. They effectively besieged the building, as a large crowd of several hundred watched from a distance, before eventually smashing their way through the glass facade.

Pro-democracy legislators at the scene had attempted to dissuade them from breaking into LegCo, warning them they could face serious criminal charges for doing so.

One of the lawmakers, 66-year-old Leung Yiu-chung, said their pleas were ignored, with many protesters telling him they were prepared to face the consequences.

Police warned the crowd they would use force and make arrests, but fell back to an interior gate before vacating the building, rather than engage the crowd. Hundreds more flowed in once the police left.

Inside, they defaced the emblem of Hong Kong in the central chamber, raised the old British colonial flag, spray-painted messages across the walls, and shattered furniture.

Then at about midnight outside the building, protesters clad in plastic helmets and brandishing umbrellas retreated from a baton charge by riot police, who quickly overcame their makeshift barriers. –BBC

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