Friday 6 December 2019

Hong Kong 'torture' victim told: 'Report it to Chinese authorities'

No way out: Police arrest protesters and students after they tried to flee the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus. Photo: Getty Images
No way out: Police arrest protesters and students after they tried to flee the Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus. Photo: Getty Images

Alister Smout

A Hong Kong citizen who has accused China of torturing him has been told by the former British colony's justice secretary to report his alleged treatment to the Chinese authorities.

Teresa Cheng, the city's justice secretary, said she had no opinion on the accusation made by Simon Cheng (no relation), who worked at the British consulate in the city.

Simon Cheng said police beat him in a bid to find out about pro-democracy activists
Simon Cheng said police beat him in a bid to find out about pro-democracy activists

Mr Cheng, who worked for the British government for almost two years, said secret police in China beat him, deprived him of sleep and shackled him in an attempt to force him to give information about activists leading pro-democracy protests.

Ms Cheng, speaking at the Chinese embassy in London, said he should report the matter to the country's relevant authorities.

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"There are many things that are often reported and sometimes it is extremely important to gather the whole facts and veracity of it before any view is to be formed," Ms Cheng said when asked if she was alarmed by the account of torture.

"So I prefer to hold my opinion until I have the opportunity to collect and analyse any information that I might have," she added.

The justice secretary, who sustained a wrist injury in London last week when she was pushed to the ground by people protesting against the Hong Kong government, drew a parallel between the incident and the alleged mistreatment of Mr Cheng.

"I reported my incident to the police and I would encourage him to do the same with the relevant authorities in the mainland," she said, after relating the medical details of her wrist injury.

"There is usually an avenue by which these matters can be aired," she said when asked how Mr Cheng could complain to Chinese authorities about torture allegedly carried out by the Chinese authorities themselves.

In an 8,000-word description of his experiences, Mr Cheng related a nightmare of repeated physical abuse, threats and questioning about Britain's alleged meddling in the protests. Britain's foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said the treatment amounted to torture and summoned the Chinese ambassador to discuss the case.

Meanwhile, some anti-government protesters trapped inside a Hong Kong university yesterday tried to flee through the sewers, where one student said she saw snakes, but firemen prevented further escape bids by blocking a manhole into the system.

Witnesses said fewer than 100 protesters remained inside the Polytechnic University, ring-fenced 24 hours a day by riot police, after more than 1,000 were arrested.

A protester (C) prepares to shoot an arrow with a bow as riot police fire tear gas towards the bridge protesters attempt to climb down to a road below, to escape from Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus and from police, in Hung Hom district in Hong Kong on November 18, 2019. Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP
A protester (C) prepares to shoot an arrow with a bow as riot police fire tear gas towards the bridge protesters attempt to climb down to a road below, to escape from Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus and from police, in Hung Hom district in Hong Kong on November 18, 2019. Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP
A protester prepares to lower himself down a rope from a bridge to a highway, to escape from Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus and from police, in Hung Hom district in Hong Kong on November 18, 2019. Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP
A protester (C) lowers herself down a rope from a bridge to a highway, to escape from Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus and from police, in Hung Hom district in Hong Kong on November 18, 2019. Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP
Tear gas is fired by police as protesters attempt to escape the campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in the Hung Hom district of Hong Kong on November 18, 2019. Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP
People are detained by police near the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hung Hom district of Hong Kong on November 18, 2019. Photo by DALE DE LA REY / AFP
Protesters set a fire as they march to Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hong Kong on November 18, 2019. Photo by Philip FONG / AFP
A protester reacts as police fire tear gas during a march towards Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hong Kong on November 18, 2019. Photo by Philip FONG / AFP
Protesters react as police fire tear gas while they attempt to march towards Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hung Hom district of Hong Kong on November 18, 2019. Photo by DALE DE LA REY / AFP
Protesters form a human chain to pass items to the frontline during clashes with police as they attempt to march towards Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hung Hom district of Hong Kong on November 18, 2019. Photo by DALE DE LA REY / AFP

Some surrendered while others were held during escape attempts that included trying to clamber down ropes to waiting motorbikes on Monday night, with protesters throwing petrol bombs and police responding with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon.

The streets were quiet during the past two days.

Protesters, wearing waterproof boots and carrying torches, resurfaced inside the campus after unsuccessfully probing the sewers - where fast-rising water levels are also a hazard - for a way out during the night.

Police said six people were arrested yesterday - four while removing a manhole cover outside the campus and two climbing out.

Firefighters, whom the students let on to the campus, were in place to stop any further attempts, blocking the only feasible entrance into the sewer system in an underground car park on campus.

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