Terrifying moment suspected spy is caught
WARNING: Distressing content.
Harrowing new footage from Hong Kong protests reveals disturbing police brutality and the moment a suspected undercover cop was caught by thousands of protesters inside the city's airport.
A stunning Four Corners special, aired on Monday evening, showed how tensions were on the rise in the city before pro-democracy activists took over the airport on August 12.
A day before the famous airport blockade, police had changed their tactics after weeks of protests. Four Corners showed how undercover police dressed as frontliners jumped on top of a protester, pinned him down and smashed his face into the ground.
Blood can be seen pouring out of his mouth and he screams in agony at the officers: "Even my front tooth has fallen off. I'm sorry it's OK. I understand. Don't do this I beg you."
In another location around the same time, a young woman was hit in the eye by police and officers fired tear gas canisters at protesters from point blank range - pushing them down escalators and beating them inside a metro station.
"I thought (that night) was a major, major, major miscalculation on the part of the police," lawyer Kevin Yam told the show.
"The police actions that night were completely unnecessary and it just raised the temperature all over again."
Four Corners showed how Hong Kongers turned on police later that day by mobbing vans and yelling threats at officers.
Award-winning journalist, Louisa Lim, told the show Hong Kong's police force used to be thought of as the finest police force in Asia - but local trust has been totally lost in recent weeks.
"In some cases, triads, so local gangs, have been used to beat up protesters, and the police have not intervened," she said.
"They feel that institution of the police force is no longer necessarily safeguarding public order - it's doing political work."
The day after scenes of police brutality played out, Four Corners showed how this tension boiled over during a massive protest in the city's airport on August 12.
By late afternoon, the airport was entirely shut down and protesters became paranoid an undercover cop was among their ranks.
When a man was discovered with mainland Chinese identification, some protesters started attacking him.
Surrounded by thousands of protesters, the man was pinned down and passed out. There was serious concern for his life leading paramedics to attend, however they were prevented from getting to the man and police reinforcements were sent to rescue him.
Later in the day another suspected spy was mobbed and filmed yelling "record this, I am innocent" before being pulled away and beaten.
He turned out to be a reporter for a state media publication.
Fernando Cheung, a pro-democracy MP, said the actions of the protesters on August 12 damaged the cause.
"Hatred breeds hatred, and this is what we see," he said after the incident. "We've seen violence escalated on both sides. What you've seen tonight at the airport is not a representation of the campaign itself. We do not condone violence. We want to fight against violence."
Weeks later, the violence in Hong Kong continues without a resolution in sight. So far, China has resisted intervening, however satellite images show military vehicles amassing near the border, amid a propaganda campaign showing Chinese might.
On Monday, thousands of Hong Kong university and school students swapped classes for democracy protests, the latest act of defiance in an anti-government movement that has plunged the Chinese-ruled city into its biggest political crisis in decades.
The boycott follows a weekend marred by some of the worst violence since unrest escalated more than three months ago, with protesters burning barricades and throwing petrol bombs, and police retaliating with water cannon, tear gas and batons.
On Monday riot police patrolled the MTR subway, where some of the most violent clashes have erupted.
Hundreds of students gathered on the hilltop campus of Chinese University, one of Hong Kong's largest, taking turns to make speeches from a stage with a black backdrop embossed with "Students in Unity Boycott for our City".
"I come here just to tell others that even after summer holidays end we are not back to our normal life, we should continue to fight for Hong Kong," said one 19-year-old student who asked to be identified as just Chan.
On the first day of the new school year, secondary students were seen singing, chanting and forming human chains, some wearing hard hats and masks. Students have turned out in significant numbers at recent rallies. Protesters had called for a general strike but most people appeared to return to their daily lives with shops open, trains operating and workers making their way to offices across the global financial hub.
Thousands of protesters blocked roads and public transport links to Hong Kong airport on Sunday in a bid to draw world attention to what they see as ever-tighter control by Beijing over the city, despite the promise of autonomy.
Airport authorities said 25 flights were cancelled on Sunday but transport services were largely back to normal.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated the central government's support for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and her government.
"China's central government supports chief executive Carrie Lam's leadership ... to administer in accordance with the law and supports Hong Kong's police tackling the violence and chaos in accordance with the law to restore order," he told a press briefing.
Several editorials in Chinese state media condemned the protesters. One published by the state news agency Xinhua warned that "the end is coming" for protesters who should "never misjudge the determination and ability of the central government".
After leaving the airport on Sunday, some demonstrators targeted the MTR subway station in nearby Tung Chung district, ripping out turnstiles and smashing CCTV cameras, windows and lamps with metal poles. Police moved in and made several arrests.
John Lee, government secretary for security, told media that nearly 100 petrol bombs were thrown in various locations on Saturday with two found on a 13-year-old boy who was arrested inside an MTR station.
The unrest began over a now-suspended extradition bill that would have allowed people in the city to be sent to China for trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.
The turmoil has evolved over 13 weeks to become a widespread demand for greater democracy. China is eager to quell the unrest before the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1.
- with wires