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Hong Kong activists launches three-day protest at Airport

HONG KONG: Pro-democracy activists have launched three-day rallies at Hong Kong’s airport, hoping to win international support from arriving passengers.

Hundreds of demonstrators, mostly wearing black shirts, started to gather at the arrival area of Chek Lap Kok Airport early afternoon on Friday – the second time they brought their message to the international travel hub.

Demonstrators promoted it on social media with a mock boarding pass reading “HK to freedom” and “warm pick-up to guests to HK”.

The demonstrations have started in opposition of a draft legislation to allow extradition to mainland China, but have since morphed into a broader movement seeking to reverse a slide in freedoms in the city.

The gatherings, expected to run over three days, have not been authorised, but the last demonstration at the airport passed off peacefully without causing flight disruptions.

Airport Authority Hong Kong earlier said that it was aware of the planned rallies but “the airport will operate normally”.

Meanwhile, an email attributed to an unidentified government spokesman said the government and the travel industry were working to minimise disruptions and “all stand ready to welcome and assist visitors to Hong Kong any time”.

But on Thursday, the government conceded that tourist arrivals dropped 26 percent at the end of last month compared with last year and were continuing to fall in August.

It’s Friday and scorching outside, and there’s a massive sit-in protest at the Hong Kong International Airport. This is the first of a planned three-day rally in the arrivals hall.

The travel industry accounts for 4.5 percent of the financial hub’s economy and employs about 250,000 people, or about 7 percent of the total working population.