Tensions in Hong Kong flare as university students warn of escalating protests against the controversial extradition Bill tomorrow (21 Jun), in the event that the city’s government refuses to concede to their demands by today (20 Jun).
South China Morning Post reported on Wed (19 Jun) that the university students have also, in addition to the full withdrawal of the Bill, urged the government to drop its label of last week’s protest on 12 Jun as a “riot”, a label which carries grave consequences for the protestors such as arrest under anti-rioting laws.
Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung, however, told SCMP two days prior that only protestors who had wielded tools such as bricks and metal poles against police officers during the clashes will be charged under such anti-rioting laws.
32 protesters were arrested following last week’s clashes, with five of them specifically for rioting offences, according to SCMP.
The university students had nonetheless called upon the Hong Kong government to release all arrested protestors from police custody, and to subsequently mete out appropriate punishment against police officers found guilty of using excessive force in dealing with protestors.
Provisional executive committee member of City University’s student union Joey Siu told SCMP: “If we don’t get a response by tomorrow, we will escalate our protests.”
William Chan Wai-lam similarly told SCMP that students will swarm government headquarters in Admiralty tomorrow morning should the government continues to refuse to do away with the extradition Bill.
Chan also encouraged “self-initiated civil disobedience movements by any peaceful means possible” such as flooding train stations with protesters to supplement the protest on Fri.
Council Front legislator Claudia Mo Man-ching told SCMP: “We urge [students] to stick to the principle of ‘no bloodshed, no arrests, no sacrifice”, adding that her party will be joining the protests tomorrow should the government refuses to concede by today.
Public should not misdirect anger towards govt against police: Secretary for Security John Lee
Meanwhile, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu told legislators in light of doxxing cases involving the personal data of 400 police officers and 100 of their family members that the public should not misdirect its anger towards the government against the officers, SCMP reported.
“If the public has any discontent with the government, please don’t vent against our officers. They were also threatened with violence,” Lee said.
“As part of the team overseeing the legislative amendment, like the chief executive, I’d like to apologise for the controversies and rifts it has caused in society,” Lee was reported as saying. “If the public has any discontent with the government, please don’t vent it against our officers, because they were also threatened with violence.”
“They were also treated violently [by protesters] … officers’ lives were threatened,” he added, referring to the protestors who threw bricks and metal bars against the police officers.
Democratic Party leader Wu Chi-wai however retorted: “Were the police really left with no other option, but to shoot tear gas at me?”
Responding to criticisms regarding the failure of officers from Special Tactical Squad to display numbers at the back of their uniforms, which prevents members of the public from lodging a complaint, Lee merely responded: “In a very chaotic situation, everything is in motion”, adding that the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) will have to rely on witnesses and videos to ascertain the authenticity of a complaint.
“Without prejudice to the justice system, we will try our best to be considerate to everyone who voiced their opinion to the government,” Lee said, adding: “We wish to heal social rifts as soon as possible.”