Friday 23 August 2019

Hong Kong police make arrests over pro-democracy protests

One man is accused of storming into Hong Kong’s legislature building.

A worker is reflected on a broken glass panel damaged by protesters at the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong (Andy Wong/PA)
A worker is reflected on a broken glass panel damaged by protesters at the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong (Andy Wong/PA)
Damage to the Legislative Council following a break-in by protesters (Johnson Lai/AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

Police in Hong Kong have arrested at least 13 people over Monday’s pro-democracy protests.

One man is accused of storming into Hong Kong’s legislature building in a break-in involving hundreds of protesters who vandalised offices and the main chamber.

The local man surnamed Poon was arrested in Mong Kok for assaulting police, criminal destruction, misconduct in public places and forced entry of the Legislative Council Complex, police said.

The 12 others, including 11 men and one woman, were arrested in connection with a different protest that took place on Monday morning.

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Damage to the Legislative Council following a break-in by protesters (Johnson Lai/AP)

They face various charges including possession of offensive weapons, unlawful assembly, assaulting a police officer, obstructing a police officer and failing to carry an identity document.

Pro-democracy protesters rushed police barricades around the time of a morning flag-raising ceremony marking the 22nd anniversary of the return of Hong Kong, a former British colony, to China on July 1 1997. Police used shields, batons and pepper spray to drive them back.

That afternoon, protesters began what became an hours-long effort to break into the locked legislature building by smashing thick glass walls and prying open metal security curtains. A few hundred poured in at around 9pm and spray-painted slogans on the walls and caused extensive damage.

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Graffiti was sprayed on walls by demonstrators (Johnson Lai/AP)

On Wednesday, workers boarded up shattered windows and police carted away evidence during the start of what will be a massive clean up and criminal investigation.

The government showed journalists the extent of the damage on a tour of the first two floors of the building.

At almost every turn, slogans had been spray-painted on the walls in Chinese and English. “Destroy the Chinese Communist Party,” read one. “Hong Kong is not China,” said another.

Papers, rubbish and umbrellas — a protest symbol in Hong Kong used to ward off sun, rain and pepper spray — were strewn in lobbies and rooms. Parts of wooden picture frames were all that remained of portraits of legislative leaders that hung on the wall.

The actions overshadowed a peaceful march by hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters elsewhere in the city.

Steve Vickers, a former head of criminal intelligence for the Royal Hong Kong Police, predicted a severe government crackdown that will result in long jail terms.

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Journalists were shown the damage caused by protesters (Johnson Lai/AP)

“I am personally sympathetic to the great majority of the Hong Kong demonstrators and their motivation, but the hardcore elements and agitators involved are becoming increasingly desperate,” said Mr Vickers, who heads Steve Vickers and Associates, a political and corporate risk consultancy. “Their actions are counterproductive to many Hong Kong people’s genuine democratic aspirations.”

Police also said five men and one woman were arrested for various incidents during a public meeting on Sunday, when supporters of police staged a large rally. Some clashed with anti-government protesters and members of the news media.

They were charged with possession of offensive weapons, assault causing bodily harm, common assault and fighting in a public place.

Also on Wednesday, police said eight people had been arrested for posting personal data about police officers on the internet as massive protests against the government and police were held in recent weeks.

Officers and their family members have been threatened since their addresses and official ID card numbers were published, Superintendent Mohammed Swalikh of the Cyber Security bureau said.

PA Media

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