22 August 2019
Video cameramen shoot footage as police clear part of the Mong Kok protest site on Tuesday. Photo: HKEJ
Video cameramen shoot footage as police clear part of the Mong Kok protest site on Tuesday. Photo: HKEJ

Police accused of using excessive force during clearance

Hong Kong police used excessive force when clearing the Occupy sites in Mong Kok Tuesday and Wednesday, Civil Human Rights Front said.

Police said the Occupy protesters were engaging in an illegal assembly in Mong Kok but did not give a clear definition, Johnson Yeung Ching-yin, deputy convenor of the activist group, which organizes the annual July 1 march from Victoria Park, was quoted as saying in a RTHK report. 

Yeung said police used the same level of force on Tuesday as they used on Sept. 28, the first day of the Umbrella Movement. He said such force is not appropriate. 

Police also blocked the view of media during the arrest of Lester Shum, deputy secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, infringing the public’s right to know about what was happening, Yeung said.

Police chief Andy Tsang said the force police used was reasonable.

Lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, who represents the legal functional constituency, criticized police for using a court injunction as an excuse to carry out a clearance operation, RTHK reported.

“They have ignored the procedure for the injunction, as protesters on the scene have to be clear about the injunction before police make any arrest,” Kwok said.

Around 20 lawyers have arrived in various districts to provide legal support for those arrested.

“We have talked to 30 to 40 detainees, and most of them were not told the reason for their arrest until they arrived at the police office,” Kwok said.

However, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said Hong Kong police have the power to enforce laws, and their clearance operation Tuesday night had not exceeded the boundaries set by the court injunction.

Police have the power to drive out protesters although they were only helping bailiffs to clear obstructions in the specified area, Yuen said.

The comments came after protesters questioned whether the injunction granted police the power to clear protesters from the site.

“In any given circumstances, the police can, on one hand, assist the bailiffs to enforce the injunction,” Yuen said.

“But when circumstances render it necessary, the police are duty bound to discharge their duty to maintain peace and prevent other criminal activities.” 

Police have cleared barricades and tents erected by pro-democracy supporters in Mong Kok. Traffic along Nathan Road resumed Wednesday afternoon, for the first time since late September.

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