- The statement says they are ‘heartbroken and helpless’ over the overreaction of some demonstrators, without mentioning specific incidents
- Two mainland Chinese men were assaulted on Tuesday night, while hundreds of flights have been cancelled over the past two days
Protesters in Hong Kong on Wednesday apologised for the disruption they had caused at the city's airport over the past two days that forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights, but steered clear of mentioning their attacks on two mainland Chinese men or the clashes with police.
They also appealed for understanding of their stance, with some saying they would suspend demonstrations at the airport for now.
The statement " signed and issued by "a group of fellow Hongkongers longing for freedom and democracy" " said they felt heartbroken and helpless regarding the overreaction of some protesters on Tuesday, without referring to specific incidents.
Beijing condemns Hong Kong airport protesters over assault on two mainlanders, compares behaviour to acts of terrorism
On Tuesday night, two mainland Chinese men were assaulted, detained and had their hands bound with cable ties by angry demonstrators who suspected the duo of being undercover agents. One of them was later confirmed to be a journalist with state-run tabloid Global Times.
An officer who had his baton snatched and was being beaten with it resorted to drawing his gun and pointing it at protesters.
The incidents happened on the fifth day of a mass sit-in by protesters who sought to explain to visitors the crisis triggered by the Hong Kong government's proposed extradition bill.
The bill, now suspended, would have allowed the city to transfer suspects to jurisdictions with which it does not have an extradition deal, including the mainland. Street protests have erupted since June, with demonstrators accusing police of using excessive force in response.
"Many Hongkongers are exhausted and have become paranoid after experiencing all these fears and injustice," the statement read.
It said what the protesters did on Tuesday night was an "overreaction" resulting from chronic mental pressure and "provocation" at the scene.
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Regarding their earlier actions " which saw thousands of travellers blocked from checking in, leaving many stranded in Hong Kong " the group offered their apologies and promised to reflect on their strategy.
"Being stranded for three days, cancelled flights and forced changes of itinerary are not what you deserve, nor is this what we initially aspired to do," the statement read.
"For the sake of the youngsters' pursuit of freedom, democracy and human rights, please understand our difficulties."
Protesters said they were forced to take their demonstration to the airport as it had become the final safe place for them to express their views.
The administration team of the Telegram group for the airport sit in, which has more than 37,000 members, also announced a suspension of protests but not a complete end to them.
What happened on Tuesday is not perfect but it does not mean that the sit-in is officially terminatedAdministrators to a Telegram group for airport protesters
"What happened on Tuesday is not perfect but it does not mean that the sit-in is officially terminated," said the team in a message to the group.
"What we need to do now is to look forward, to maintain confidence in ourselves and our peers, to reflect on our deeds, and to believe that we will perform better next time."
Meanwhile, Council Front lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, convenor of the pan-democratic bloc, said the treatment of two mainland Chinese men and blocking travellers from boarding their planes was wrong.
Mo said young demonstrators appeared to have "boiled over" and described the situation at the airport on Tuesday as "extremely dangerous".
She condemned the protesters' actions but not the protesters themselves as she did not know all the facts.
"The problem is we don't know exactly who did it or why," Mo said. "Could there be agent provocateurs, were (the protesters) being incited?"
Mo referred to the police's admission that they had sent undercover agents into the mix of protesters, saying it had caused panic among those in the movement.
Court issues injunction order to remove protesters from Hong Kong airport terminal after they clash with riot police
On Sunday, black-clad undercover officers arrested a number of protesters in Causeway Bay.
Mo also said she would not dissociate herself from anti-extradition protesters but would criticise their wrongdoings, and noted their apology.
Mrs Lau, 33, a housewife, arrived at the airport on Wednesday afternoon, folding paper flowers with the words "we are so sorry" written on them, as well as the popular slogan "Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our times".
She said the flowers were designed by a friend of hers, who wished to express apologies to affected residents and tourists, especially after the attacks on mainland Chinese people on Tuesday night.
"What happened was not ideal, and there is much room for improvement," she said. "But I have faith in the youngsters who will learn from their mistakes. It is darkest before the dawn. I hope we won't be engulfed by darkness."
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