Hundreds of medical staff at one of Hong Kong’s main public hospitals have rallied to support months of protests for democratic reforms and denounce police use of force.
It comes after new violence over the weekend rocked the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
Staff at the Prince of Wales Hospital, many wearing black surgical masks, sang protest songs, chanted slogans and formed a human chain, urging the government to resolve the conflict by acceding to protesters’ demands, including direct elections for the city’s leader and police accountability.
“I hope Hong Kong will be peaceful again. I hope police will stop indiscriminate arrests and their excessive use of force,” said a nurse who wanted to be identified only as Ching.
Hospital staff have held several rallies in support of the protest movement.
However, about 500 doctors in a letter published in two newspapers on Monday supported the police handling of the crisis and said violence should not be glorified.
The hospital rally came after a pro-democracy march on Sunday in downtown Hong Kong descended into chaos.
Thousands of people, black-clad masked protesters alongside families with children, defied a police ban and peacefully marched 1.2 miles from the Causeway Bay shopping district to the central business district.
Police had turned down the march permit, but the demonstrators were undeterred, as they have been all summer.
Some protesters later burned Chinese flags and hundreds of them targeted government buildings, throwing bricks and petrol bombs through police barriers.
Police responded by firing volleys of tear gas and using water cannon trucks to spray pepper-laced water as well as blue liquid that helped police identify offenders.
Protesters retreated but regrouped in cat-and-mouse battles lasting a few hours before calm returned.
Pro-Beijing supporters turned up at the North Point and Fortress Hill neighbourhoods late on Sunday, leading to brawls.
Police said on Monday that people used hammers and other weapons to attack each other, leading to a number of injuries and forcing police to deploy tear gas.
Police official Tse Chun-Chung said “radical protesters escalated their violent acts” including throwing more than 80 petrol bombs in the melee on Sunday, briefly setting a water cannon on fire. He said some landed on other demonstrators.
Police have detained 89 people since Friday, bringing the total arrests to 1,453 since the protests started in June, he said.
He said police will step up enforcement, and that “everyone is a loser” with the persistent violence.
The Hospital Authority said 28 people were taken to hospital on Sunday.