A pilot at Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific is among 44 protestors who have been charged with rioting following a recent demonstration in the city led by the so-called ‘anti-ELAB’ movement. The protestors, who include a number of students as well as a nurse, teacher and the pilot were released on a bail bond of approximately $128 USD each.
According to Reuters, the protestors were arrested at a demonstration held near China’s representative Liaison Office in the city. During clashes between police and activists, the emblem of the Peoples Republic of China which hangs outside the building was smeared with black paint. Beijing has since covered the emblem in a transparent plastic box.
The offence of rioting in Hong Kong is broad and includes an unlawful assembly of three or more people where any person commits what is called a breach of the peace. The maximum sentence for rioting is 10-years imprisonment. The next court case has been scheduled for 25th September.
Cathay Pacific, which is owned by the London-headquartered Swire conglomerate, has come in for criticism for not “clarifying” its position on the protests after a cabin crew union at the airline threw its weight behind the anti-ELAB movement. The mainland daily, the Global Times, which is largely seen as a mouthpiece of the Chinese government said Cathay Pacific had not “sufficiently” separated itself from the protests
Quoting analysts, the newspaper said Cathay Pacific should “not engage in political activities that violate the Basic Law of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.” The Global Times warned the airline that mainland passengers would reject the Cathay Pacific if it did not change its stance on the protests.
The highly critical editorial came after protestors organised a demonstration which was held in the Arrivals Hall of Terminal 1 at Hong Kong’s airport. The paper claimed the protest would “definitely affect the normal operation of Hong Kong airport and seriously taint Hong Kong’s image among international tourists, impacting their confidence in Hong Kong.”
The union which represents pilots at the airline said it could not take a political stance on the protests but has told its member to exercise their “personal prudence”.