Police have arrested one of the organizers of Saturday’s protest march in Yuen Long where a brutal attack took place by suspected triad gangsters on anti-government demonstrators and passersby the previous Sunday.
Max Chung kin-ping, who helped organize the weekend rally that drew hundreds of thousands onto the streets to denounce the July 21 violence, was held after he was spotted at the proposed march route, defying warnings of an “illegal” march.
Chung was taken by the police on Sunday as he was leaving Victoria Park after attending an RTHK City Forum event.
He faces charges of organizing an unauthorized assembly.
According to Michael Mo Kwan-tai, a co-organizer of the Yuen Long rally, police first took Chung to the Happy Valley Police Station and then to Wan Chai Police Station and Tai Po Police Station before escorting him to his two flats for search in the night.
Chung applied last week for a letter of no objection for a “Reclaim Yuen Long” march, but police rejected the application due to concerns that it would lead to violent clashes between protesters and indigenous villagers in the wake of the tensions fueled by the July 21 incidents.
A week ago, a group of white-clad thugs went on a rampage at the Yuen Long MTR Station, beating up passengers and passersby in an attack believed to have been directed mainly at anti-government protesters.
Forty-five people were injured in the attacks, which saw the police come under severe criticism for their slow response.
Following that violence, a demonstration was called the following Saturday to denounce the gangster attacks and police inaction, as well as to send a message that the public will be cowed down by threats from triad gangs.
But the police refused permission for the rally, citing the tense situation. Chung, however, went ahead with a plan of walking alone along the proposed march route, leaving him exposed to the charge of involvement in an “illegal” event.
The police warned against the unauthorized demonstration, but that didn’t stop a large number of people from taking part in the march that ended at Yuen Long MTR Station.
Chanting slogans in Chinese such as “Hong Kong police knowingly violate the law” and holding banners that slammed the law enforcement officers for alleged collusion with gangsters, the protesters moved toward the MTR station after protesting outside the Yuen Long Police Station.
Several hundred protesters also gathered outside Nam Pin Wai village near the MTR Station.
At around 5 pm, police began to disperse the demonstrators, with anti-riot officers firing multiple rounds of pepper spray and tear gas in the areas.
Special Tactical Squad officers charged into the concourse of the Yuen Long station at 10 pm, after many protesters went inside. The police used batons to beat and subdue some of the demonstrators.
Chung claimed on Saturday night that the crowd was not having a march but only conducting various kinds of activities in Yuen Long, and that the turnout reached 288,000.
Mo revealed on Monday morning on social media that Chung had been taken to the custodial ward of Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po at around 5 am Monday morning, and that Chung’s condition is stable.
In a statement issued in the wee hours, at around 3 am, of Sunday, the police said “some protestors hurled bricks, threw glass bottles containing suspected corrosive fluid as well as smoke-producing material at police officers and targeted strong laser beam at them” during the dispersal operation in Yuen Long.
The police “had to use appropriate force including tear gas, rubber bullets and sponge grenades to stop the violent acts,” it said.
At least 13 people were arrested for offenses including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons, assaulting police officers and assault, in relation to the weekend Yuen Long protest, according to the statement.
In response to the accusation that some tear gas hit elderly care homes in the vicinity, senior superintendent Yolanda Yu Hoi-kwan of the police’s public relations branch told the media that after checking with 22 of the elderly homes in the district, it was confirmed that none of them was affected.
The Hospital Authority (HA) said 24 people had received treatment at various hospitals as of Sunday for injuries they sustained in the weekend incident. two of the injured were said to be in serious condition while six were in stable condition and 16 were discharged.
After Chung’s arrest, Yu explained that the police decision was made based on the fact he had known in advance that police disapproved the march but he still showed up in Yuen Long and even accepted media interviews.
Following Saturday’s clashes, the government said it “strongly condemns the protesters for breaching the public peace and breaking the law deliberately.
It claimed that “some radical protesters violently charged police’s cordon lines, vandalized a police vehicle and blocked roads.”
“The police will take serious follow-up actions on those violent protesters,” a government spokesman said.
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