Information Present How Police Closed The Metropolis’s Subway Throughout Professional-Democracy Protests

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Anthony Wallace / Getty Images

A railroad car after being destroyed at the university's MTR station.

HONG KONG – The Hong Kong police demanded at least 10 times that the metro stations of the city stores or the train stop operating, which coincided with major protests against democracy] Clean, efficient and fast – the Mass Transit Railway or the MTR has long been the pride of Hong Kong. But in recent months, subway signs have been littered with spray paint and facilities were smashed or burned on protest days as anger grew on the business.

A series of early closures in October accused the MTR of being used to create a de facto city-wide curfew without lawfully exceeding one. Previously, MTR employees had told BuzzFeed News that they saw no technical reasons for the early shutdown and believed that they would be used to limit participation in protests. The police have also used the stations as detention areas for protesters in recent months and fired pepper spray into multiple stations as the demonstrations escalated.

The MTR Corporation is a listed company that counts the Hong Kong government as its controlling shareholder. Under the company agreement with the government, MTR Corporation is required to provide Hong Kong police with "adequate" accommodation and report to the government as soon as a delay or emergency shutdown occurs. (A fine is also imposed for major delays to achieve better service.)


Mohd Rasfan / Getty Images

A family looks on a charred and locked exit to Admiralty MTR Station on October 6.

In early October, BuzzFeed News requested a copy of any reports submitted to the government for emergencies or delays between June, when the protests began, and the first of October, when widespread protests coincided with the National Day from China. The Transportation Department did not provide the full reports, but a summary of all the reports that BuzzFeed News has published in full.

The legislature in Hong Kong has also questioned the closure of the stations. In a November response, the Minister of Transport published a list of data on which the subway was closed, without stating that many of the closures were at the request of the police.

One of the five protesters in Hong Kong claims is an independent investigation of police violence, as the allegations have increased over six months of demonstrations. On Wednesday, an international panel of experts who had advised the police on an investigation, opened the investigation, citing criticism that the police did not have truly independent oversight functions.

Subway became the main hot spot on July 21 White-clad men stormed an MTR station in the New Territories area of ​​Hong Kong, indiscriminately lashing out at passengers and protesters. The MTR has asked the police for help and closed the station. Some details about the incident were announced by the MTR.


Nicolas Asfouri / Getty Images

A gate to Mong Kok Station closed on October 8th.

Records show, however, that the police began applying for the closure of stations as early as June. The mass protests in Hong Kong started on June 9, when about 1 million people took to the streets in violation of a planned extradition law, which has since been scrapped. The MTR reported no delays or closures to the government on that day.

Three days later, as the demonstrators attempted to break through the Legislative Council Building, which discussed the bill, chaos broke out. It was the first time the police used tear gas against demonstrators. At around 8:30 pm, the police called the nearest MTR station to the government building to be closed. Early in the morning, before 6 am, the police continued to call on the MTR to keep the station closed after the protests subsided.

An estimated 2 million people marched through the streets on June 16, but the police did not ask for station closures. On July 1, police again called for the closure of stations on the island of Hong Kong – this time shortly after 7 am, hours before a peaceful march through the city. However, during that night, protesters stormed the Legislative Council building, and the police eventually fired tear gas after they disbanded.

The police also demanded a change of service in August and September. The recordings end on October 1, when the city was involved in protests over the Chinese National Day. A young man was shot dead by the police that night.

After renewed protests against the ban on face masks, the city put the entire metro system out of operation for the first time in the history of the MTR on 5 October.

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December 11, 2019, 19:11

Correction: The name of the new territories was incorrectly specified in an earlier version of this post.

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