Over 6,000 arrested for protest-related offenses since June

December 10, 2019 16:35
Riot police charge towards anti-government protesters during a dispersal operation in Tsim Sha Tsui on Dec. 1. Police said a total of 6,022 people have been arrested for protest-related offenses since June 9. Photo: Reuters

A total of 6,022 people have been arrested for protest-related offenses since June 9, when about a million took to the streets to oppose the now-withdrawn extradition bill.

As the protests entered its seventh month on Monday, police said in a regular press briefing that 2,393 or nearly four in 10 of those arrested were students, while 946 were underage, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The total included 4,474 males and 1,548 females, with ages ranging from 11 to 84.

Nearly 1,000 of them are facing various charges, including include unlawful assembly and participating in rioting.

Over the past six months, police fired about 16,000 rounds of tear gas, 10,000 rubber bullets, 2,000 rounds of bean bags and 1,850 rounds of sponge bullets on the protesters.

On Monday morning, police arrested 12 people in Sheung Shui as protesters tried to block roads in response to an online call for a citywide strike.

Chief Superintendent Kenneth Kwok Ka-chuen of the Police Public Relations Branch (PPRB) said some of those arrested were found to be carrying iron nails and other sharp objects apparently meant to pierce the tires of vehicles.

Calling the situation alarming, Kwok said among those arrested were six students and a teacher.

“Teachers are supposed to nurture young talents and groom them into future leaders,” Kwok said. “They certainly should make a clear stance against violence and do all they can to prevent students from continuing with these destructive acts, instead of leading them to do so."

Meanwhile, PPRB Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung confirmed media reports that an extendable baton was found in the backpack of an off-duty police officer as he was about to board a flight at the Hong Kong International Airport on Sunday.

Kwok said the officer gave a reasonable explanation for carrying the baton and was not found to have violated the law.

Kong said the incident resulted from the officer’s inadvertence and negligence.

Nonetheless, guidelines on safekeeping of equipment will be given to all members of the police force to prevent a similar incident from happening again, Kong said.

Kong also said the Complaints Against Police Office has received more than 1,300 complaints since June. 

He admitted that the office has found it difficult to handle some of the complaints, which involved serious accusations, since the people concerned have refused to give evidence.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Tuesday she was very worried about students participating in law-breaking acts.

Speaking to media before a meeting of the Executive Council, Lam said she was aware that a teacher and several students were arrested on Monday for allegedly trying to set up roadblocks in Sheung Shui, and that home-made bombs were found near Wah Yan College Hong Kong in Wan Chai on the same day.

Violence is now "entering school campuses" and this will affect the safety of pupils and their parents, RTHK quoted Lam as saying.

That is why, the chief executive said, she has tasked Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung with following up on the cases of arrested teachers.

Lam also asked schools to follow an earlier government notice for them to stop their students from joining "illegal and violent activities".

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