Thousands joined a rally at Chater Garden in Central on Wednesday night to voice anger at alleged sexual violence by the police against anti-government protesters.
The Hong Kong Women’s Coalition on Equal Opportunities, which organized the protest, said more than 30,000 joined the demonstration, but police estimated the crowd at 11,500 at the peak, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports. The crowd overflowed into Chater Road and Statue Square.
Inspired by last year’s protest movement against sexual violence in France, protest organizers and volunteers distributed purple ribbons, face masks and placards to participants in Central; purple was the color of the French campaign.
Participants wrote the #Protesttoo hashtag on their arms with lipstick.
Rally speakers said police had become increasingly violent in their law enforcement action in recent anti-government protests, and resorted to sexual violence to harass, intimidate and clamp down on demonstrators.
Even male protesters had been subjected to sexual violence by the police, one speaker said.
A woman protester, using the pseudonym Ms. Lui, told a press conference last week that after being arrested and brought to a police station, she was asked by a female officer to remove all her clothes for a naked body search.
Police have denied her allegation.
She said she was deeply troubled by the experience and could not sleep for many nights.
She stopped joining anti-government protests for a while after her experience, but Ms. Lui said she later decided to take to the streets again. The more the suppression, the more she will fight, she said.
Another protester calling herself Chloe said when she was arrested during clashes outside the Tin Shui Wai Police Station, officers dragged her away, and as a result she was caught on camera with her underwear exposed.
Chloe said she never felt ashamed of what she had gone through, noting that she had done nothing wrong and acts of intimidation by the police would not stop her from joining demonstrations.
As the rally at Central ended peacefully, many of the protesters chanted, “See you in Chater Garden on August 31,” referring to another protest being organized by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) on the day, the fifth anniversary of the decision by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on the selection of the chief executive by universal suffrage and the method of forming the Legislative Council.
On Thursday, the CHRF said police have banned a march and rally scheduled for Saturday. CHRF convenor Jimmy Sham Tsz-ki said the group would appeal against the decision.
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