The Hong Kong government on Monday branded as “rioters” the pro-democracy protesters who occupied Lung Wo Road in Admiralty and condemned their attempt to surround the government headquarters.
“Society would not accept the illegal acts of violent radicals who repeatedly pushed police officers and charged their cordon lines during scuffles last night and this morning,” a government spokesman said, adding that the illegal acts have seriously disrupted public order and put the safety of police officers and protesters at stake.
It was the first time for the government to describe the protesters as “rioters”, who “deliberately threw objects including water bottles, helmets and pepper powder at the police officers”, the statement said.
They also used strong flashlights against police officers and attacked them with fire extinguisher spray, and repeatedly provoked and verbally abused police officers and continuously incited others at the scene to charge the police cordon lines, it said.
“The government strongly condemns the student groups for planning illegal assemblies and inciting protesters to charge towards the central government office repeatedly,” according to the statement.
The organizers of “the illegal assemblies” are urged to stop their illegal acts immediately and ask all participants to remain calm and exercise restraint, stop provoking police officers and charging police check lines, and leave the scene peacefully and in an orderly manner.
Thousands of protesters clashed with police overnight at the protest site in Admiralty near the government headquarters. Several dozen people were injured, including 11 police officers, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.
Meanwhile, Lai Tung-kwok, Secretary for Security, warned the protest in Admiralty could easily slip out of control. He urged all protesters to leave immediately and warned people against joining the demonstrations.
Lai said the action organized by Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism was “organized and planned”, as protesters formed barricades with metal barriers and charged against the cordon.
The security chief said the violent clashes were contrary to the principles of “peace and non-violence” being claimed by the organizers. “Batons and bricks were found in the bags of the protesters,” Lai said.
“Protesters intended to paralyze the operation of the government, which is intolerable,” he said, adding that police will act “decisively” after being repeatedly provoked.
Alex Chow, secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, said Sunday night their action on Lung Wo Road was a failure as protesters failed to surround the government.
Joshua Wong of Scholarism denied that protesters became violent. He said it was the police who lost their minds, beating the students and using pepper spray on them.
– Contact us at [email protected]