MACAU – Police physically intervened to break up an estimated crowd of 1,500 assembled to protest government-related issues on May 1, resorting to the use of water cannons and pepper spray. The injured included a foreign journalist.
The protest was organized by several labor unions, social, and youth organizations critical of the government for not doing enough to curb inflation and a growing illegal labor problem.
The protesters began a march toward the government compound at about 2:00 pm. Instead of following a police-altered route, they resorted to taking their pre-planned route down New Road through the commercial district in the heart of the city. When they arrived at the Soi Seong Market area, they were stopped by a road blockade set up by the police. Physical violence ensued when the protesters proceeded to remove road blocks.
The police had previously announced via news media on April 29 and 30 that demonstrators would be required to change their route and would not be permitted to march down New Road. Demonstrators however persisted in following their original route.
A foreign journalist was injured when she lost her balance when hit by a water cannon. She fell on a rock, resulting in a four to five inch head laceration. The Macau Health Bureau confirmed the journalist sustained a light fracture to a facial bone.
According to a Macau police press release, 41 people were injured, including four demonstrators, two reporters, three non-protesters and 32 policemen. Three people are currently undergoing hospital treatment, including one policemen, one demonstrator and one reporter.
Accordingly to TDM-Macau, after the conflict police rearranged the road blockade and extended its perimeters. Journalists were banned from entering the area without acceptable reasons, resulting in arguments and physical skirmishes with police.
Later most of the demonstrators stopped to try and enter the blockaded area. Two pro-democracy lawmakers were on site to mediate. Using megaphones, police requested protesters to leave, stating that further participation would be illegal.
Lee Kin Yun is one of the organizers of the demonstration and leader of the organization, Promoting Livelihood of Workers in Macau. Lee criticized the police for using violence to stop demonstrators from marching along the originally planned route. He and fellow demonstrators argued that it was unreasonable for the police to resort to the use of water cannons and pepper spray.
Macau, a former Portuguese territory, is a special administrative region of mainland China.