29 January 2020
Lawyers representing Hong Kong pro-democracy activists have alleged that the police failed to uphold people's rights after detention. Photo: Bloomberg
Lawyers representing Hong Kong pro-democracy activists have alleged that the police failed to uphold people's rights after detention. Photo: Bloomberg

Police accused of denying rights to detained activists

The pro-democracy activists arrested Wednesday by Hong Kong police have been denied their rights while in custody, pan-democrat lawyers said, alleging that the detained were not provided food and water in a timely manner and that they were also prevented from meeting their legal representatives quickly. 

More than 500 “Occupy Central” movement participants are being held at a police school at Wong Chuk Hang on Hong Kong Island after they were arrested following a sit-in at the Central district on July 2. They were charged with unlawful assembly and obstructing police officers in their duties.

Some legislators have criticized the police for violating the Basic Law and police internal guidelines in dealing with the protesters. They said they will take up the matter with the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC). The police, meanwhile, said they were only acting in accordance with the procedures.

The protestors were transferred to the police school starting from 3 am on Wednesday, but it was alleged that they could not get any food or water for six hours from 5 am, Apple Daily reported Thursday.

An initial batch of lawyers seeking to bail out the protestors arrived at 4 am while another batch came in at 8 am. But they had to wait for five hours before they could meet the first group of protestors, the report said.

Some democratic legislators went there to inquire about the situation, but they were said to have been prevented from meeting the detained activists on the grounds that the police were still continuing their investigation.

Lawyer Alan Leong said about 25 protestors were confined on average in a 600-square-foot room, sharing one phone line to contact their lawyers. He accused the police of intentionally trying to prevent the protestors from meeting lawyers.

Southern district councilor Au Nok-hin was among those arrested. He sought a meeting with a lawyer immediately after being arrested at 3:30 am but was able to meet the lawyer only at 6:30 am, according to the Apple Daily report. 

Metro Daily cited Kwai Tsing District councilor Eric Lam as saying that he was detained for eight hours after being arrested at 3 am and that the police did not give him any food. “I told [a police officer] that I need to eat at 6 am [but my request went unheeded]“.

He also said that he was made to wait for half an hour to use the washroom.

The police, for their part, said they fulfilled the protestors’ requests for food, water and communication facilities. However, they admitted that there may have been some delays, given the large number of people under detention.

The police arrested a total of 511 protestors including students and senior citizens, some of whom were said to be as old as 80. The police warned them of illegal assembly at midnight and started the clearing process from 3 am.

As of 10:40 pm Wednesday, 486 people were released and 25 were allowed to go on bail. Among those who secured bail were three male protestors aged between 18 and 68, who were charged with possessing offensive weapons in a public place. The police were said to have found items such as screw drivers, cutters and pocket knives on them.

In other cases, 21-year-old woman was charged with assaulting police officers, AM730 reported.

The paper quoted Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok as saying that authorities had to arrest the protestors as they did not heed the police advice not to take over a major road in the Central district. The police acted in a professional way to ensure public order, the official said.

Wen Wei Po quoted IPCC Secretary-General Ricky Chu Man-kin as saying that there were 17 council members observing the whole protest from Victoria Park to Chater Road in Central on July 1, and that another 19 staff were also stationed at various places to monitor the situation.

The arrangements made by the police were sound and the rally went smoothly, he said, adding that the street clearance drive during the night was also in line with the police regulations.

– Contact us at [email protected]