The developing police state in Hong Kong
Updated: Oct 31, 2020
What a state Hong Kong (HK) is in!
Once again, we call for an independent Commission of Inquiry into the HK Police Force and the HK government.]
There is an illegitimate government exercising its authority over the populous, who have allowed the place to be annexed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Human rights in HK are under attack. On top of this we are in the midst of a global pandemic, with a Chief Executive (CE) whose determination to 'maintain stability and prosperity' can only come at the expense of ordinary people, voters and taxpayers.
Increasingly we see that CCP and the CE have no desire or intention to strengthen, improve or increase democracy in the SAR.
Although it may occasionally appear that the HK Police Force (HKPF) are somewhat inept, there is a much, much darker side to their story.
On 1st of July 2020, for example, thousands of Hongkongers took to the streets to demonstrate against China’s new “national security” law that effectively criminalized any activities seen as undermining CCP’s authority or interests. This made innocent things like singing, and chanting or waving a flag suddenly subject to the HKPF yardstick of acceptability under the purview of 'National Security'.
In Causeway Bay when a man rushed onto the street excitedly yelling "Long live Liverpool" he was joined by others in a glorious chant to celebrate the Liverpool Football Club’s first Premier Title in 30 years. HKPF officers however, soon detained the man who was wearing a Liverpool supporter's shirt, under the belief he was chanting for HK independence!
In September 2020 during protest action in Mongkok, a bus driver apparently honked his vehicle's horn to warn people on the road of his approach. For his care and concern he was not only stopped by HKPF, but also wrongly arrested for driving too fast, and accused of having in his possession a 'weapon' - namely the type of spanner drivers carry to adjust their bus' wing mirror! In a media release the Bus Industry Union demanded an apology from HKPF citing the case as an example of arbitrary arrest by HKPF.
The city's police force was once widely respected for its restraint and trusted by the local population. No more.
In the absence of an independent investigation into the operations of the HKPF and behaviour of its people, this blog could be the nearest thing you get to a copybook record of how to turn any place into a #Police State. Maybe it could be lodged with some international body undertaking its own investigation, independent of the HK government?
Just how mean, heartless, calculated and deceitful can the HKPF be to earn their pay?
Presented in a list format, and not in any particular order, are the contortions of the maniacal HKPF as they turned away from being considered "Asia's finest", and instead became the henchmen for the power-crazy CCP and CE Carrie Lam.
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1. HKPF have been arbitrarily stopping people, questioning them, and searching their belongings on the flimsiest of justification. The invasion of civil liberties has meant people feel threatened and intimidated, raising the climate of fear in the city. For this purpose HKPF has aribrarily detained or arrested large numbers of people in violation of UN conventions.
It is hardly a surprise that a 12 year year old girl who was out buying art supplies with her brother in Mongkok one weekend, ran when she got caught in the cross-hairs of a demonstration. Police officers who believed she was running from them with something to hide were swift off the mark, tackling her to the ground as if she were carrying the ball in a game of rugby! The video of the incident went viral, and the HKPF were widely condemned for their brutality. (See our blog: Hong Kong Policemen must be charged with assaulting a pregnant woman and a 12 year old girl)
2. One might ask whether the HKPF has some kind of snitch against young girls? Numerous video clips of violent attacks on protesters have surfaced on the internet, and many show offences against women and girls. They all show the HKPF out of control, vengefully hell-bent on delivering retribution rather than sticking to the normal police operational guidelines.
In October 2020 it was reported on social media site Reddit that a girl was convicted for playing her flute during 2019 protests last year. The HKPF just doesn't like to hear the protester melody "Glory to Hong Kong". It's worth noting that HKPF considered her musical instrument an 'offensive weapon', and that if her appeal against prosecution fails, she will be facing 4 months in prison.
3. Tell me that the people of HK are being unnecessarily paranoid about what's happening in their dystopian city, but every so often we see another turn of events that just sounds like a leaf out of Orwell's "1984". From the early days of the movement, HK protesters have been fighting a battle with the HKPF to remain anonymous. Despite claims that the protest movement in HK is a leaderless one, so much HKPF effort has been spent on vain attempts to question protesters, to interrogate them, search their phones and investigate who could be the ring leaders, the organisers, the instigators of its civil disobedience campaign. CCP just could not get to grips with this or the machinations of social media driving it.
4. In August 2019, protesters toppled so-called "smart" streetlamps that were fitted with CCTV. Ever mindful of CCP's surveillance capabilities and its use of facial recognition technology, HK protesters feared these “smart lampposts”—streetlights equipped with sensors and cameras, perched high above the most densely populated areas of the territory—may have had surveillance and facial-recognition capabilities. Protesters thought they could in turn be targeted for arrest, or worse-extradition to mainland China! While authorities insisted that the special lamp-posts only collected air quality, traffic and weather data, the point is that there is no trust in the government or the CCP.
Nowadays HK protesters are more alert than ever before to the possibility of their personal data being gathered and tracked.
October 2017, Hong Kong’s High Court rules police need a warrant to search mobile phones, SCMP
April 2020, Hong Kong activists Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow mount legal challenge over warrants obtained by police to search phones and Facebook office, SCMP
April 2020, Police don't need warrants to search phones: court, RTHK
April 2020, Court rules in favor of police phone searches without warrant, The Standard
July 2020, and now those arrested in HK under the NSL are swabbed for DNA samples.
August 2020, Hong Kong's voluntary COVID test plan faces risk of low turnout, Nikkei Asia.
September 2020, Hong Kong staff at Chinese banks pressured to take COVID test, Nikkei Asia
September 2020, Hong Kong's universal testing wraps up with low turn out, Global Voices
5. October, 2020, CCP and Carrie Lam's government are pushing public opinion towards MANDATORY mass covid testing in HK, and it comes at a time when there is extreme resentment towards Beijing's rule and distrust of any mainland medical company that would be involved in the testing: it's feared personal data could be transferred to mainland Chinese authorities. HK authorities insist they won't test the entire HK population - just targeted groups at high risk, or where covid hotspots are identified such as in a housing estate. Many people are yet to be convinced that such costly mass testing is about control of infections.
6. While the HKPF had their own photographers recording events, and taking shots of participants, if it was meant to provide incriminating evidence of who did what it seems much of their effort was in vain. Many of the larger mass protests were too big for HKPF resources to cover in an extensive fashion, so the HKPF would instead try to employ journalists' footage as evidence for prosecutions. This is when "faces became weapons", as one journalist put it. Besides the HKPF capturing the identity of protesters, protesters snapped the faces of police officers, informally leading to doxxing attacks in retaliation.
Faced with doxxing, some HKPF officers felt retaliation was in order - like the one who deliberately showed a journalist's identification card to live-streaming video cameras. Sure the said journalist could lodge a complaint to the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) but what's the point of that? This organisation basically monitors themselves, and often officers receive nothing more than meaningless verbal warnings.
Even in a more serious case the officer might only receive a short-term suspension until public fury calms down. The whimsically named "Independent Police Complaints Commission" (IPCC) is a different organisation, but it's not much better! These organisations clearly cannot and will not do their job effectively. All along the HKPF aim is to pretend to be doing something, or at least put on a show that they actually care.
7. When the HK protests began in 2019, the HKPF began indiscriminately arresting peaceful protesters as well as those who were violent, in violation of Article 9 of United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Since then people attending rallies, marches and other protest actions have sought to hide their identity to evade arrest. While wearing black quickly became the signature uniform of HK protesters, wearing masks and other face coverings also became necessary to avoid the impact of tear gas and pepperspray the HKPF used with abandon.
Hark the CE's brainchild "face mask ban" enacted under an archaic HK Emergency Regulations ordinance! The plan back-fired for the CE, firstly in the courts which found that the ban was unconstitutional, and then once the Covid epidemic kicked in everyone needed to wear a mask for health reasons. Even when it was illegal to wear masks in street demonstrations to hide your identity, most protesters still wore masks as strength in numbers meant the HKPF had no meaningful response.
8. A memo leaked to media from the HKPF showed amendments to the “Force Procedures Manual” under the Police General Orders (PGO), were issued shortly before 11pm on September 30 2019. The effect of the change allowed for the use of live rounds and extended the option of using of anti-riot weapons. This preceded the shooting of Tsang Chi-kin, 18, who was shot in Tsuen Wan as a group of protesters clashed with officers the very next day.
Another aspect of the relaxation of police operational guidelines concerned the removal of a key phrase that said “officers would be accountable for their own actions” in a section outlining appropriate use of force. With that key sentence deleted, officers were no longer being reminded that they may have a personal duty or obligation, and that they need to be and could be held accountable for their own actions. Giving Police officers virtual immunity meant they were more likely to act with impunity - and they did!
Despite police spokesmen emphasizing that the force adheres to “strict” guidelines in policing the protests, that are “benchmarked against international standards”, evidence indicates otherwise. An investigation by the Washington Post following up on leaked police guidelines and training manuals, showed that officers frequently ignore the guidelines in confrontations with protesters.
Echoing Carrie Lam's refusal to instigate a proper independent investigation, Police Commissioner Chris Tang is on record saying that such scrutiny would be an “injustice” and a “tool for inciting hatred” against the force. Too late, Mr Tang! How about the injustice you have committed, and continue to carry out in the name of the law against the rest of the HK population?
9. We should note that in general the HKPF do NOT make their policy manual or its guidelines available to the public, believing that doing so would compromise their operations. Yet, in many jurisdictions when members of the public are able to access police policies and procedures manuals, they can better understand why police officers react the way they do in certain circumstances. This in turn helps to create a culture of transparency with those the police serve, and build trust along the way. NOT IN HK! The HKPF actually changed their motto midway through the spell of protests in 2019, removing the sense that its officers might have "pride and care" in their work, but instead be loyal and dutybound - more like a military force.
10. Besides protesters, the HKPF have clearly considered journalists and news reporters their enemy. Ongoing attacks on media reporters made it increasing hard for them to do their work: one was blinded: (See our blog: Indonesian Journalist blinded in her right eye by a Police rubber bullet), others were abducted (See our blog: Now TV reporter "taken in for his own safety"!), many were physically assaulted. Calling the HKPF out for their lies, their violence, and misrepresentations of the truth in media briefings did not endear those guardians of the fourth estate to either the Police or the government.
It was no surprise that HKPF just axed media briefings whenever they lost their grip on the narrative of events. Besides pushing reporters back, threatening them or actually targetting them with pepper spray, another HKPF tactic has been to use bright helmet-mounted strobe lights and laser lights to annoy reporters and hamper filming of police operations.
In case you need more proof that an HKPF tactic is to just LIE, consider this case among quite a number where cases got thrown out in court: Charges dropped against protesters after Apple Daily footage disprove police lies, 21 October 2020.
11. In late September 2020, HKPF directly attacked press freedom, when without consultation they changed accreditation guidelines on who can attend HKPF police briefings, and access areas in which police operations are taking place, etc. The massive impact on student media organisations, online news sources and freelance journalists was immediately felt, as the HKPF insisted it would only recognise media representatives from government-registered or “internationally-known” organisations.
Journalists with legitimate accreditation from press associations such as the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) were no longer acknowledged by the HKPF, despite the HK government having no right or professional acumen to determine who is or isn’t a reporter. Together the HKPF and HK government effectively infringed press freedom that is enshrined in the SAR's consitutional documents, creating a government licensing system and reducing independent monitoring of their activities. (See our blog : Who's meddling now?)
It's no surprise that Beijing’s foreign affairs office in HK waded into the matter, offering another attack on a legitimate media organisation. It accused the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) of "meddling in the city's affairs", and of endorsing "fake journalists" and "anti-China troublemakers".
12. You don't want to be taken into custody by the HKPF as you are sure to suffer some form of extra-judicial punishment, beating, or torture. Research by Amnesty International has recorded shared accounts of being severely beaten by uniformed officers, or suffering other ill-treatment at the hands of police. One detainee said that after he refused to answer a question he was taken to another room where several officers attacked him and threatened to break his hands. An informant said he saw officers force a boy to shine a laser pen into his own eye in what appeared to be retribution for protesters’ use of laser pointers during the demonstrations (Time, 20 September 2019).
13. In breach of the Joint Declaration since 2019, protesters have witnessed HK become increasingly more like a police state directly controlled by CCP. Just like in the 1970's, since protests started in June 2019 the police are now 'corrupted' because, in addition to illegal unsocial behaviour using brutal 'disproportionate force', it has completely lost its ability to 'police' HK as a community. Since the 2019 protests started the dominant power of the police in a government of unelected bureaucrats who is without its own army is even more evident. Since mass protests began in HK in June 2019, other HK government officials have been notable for their silence while policy on the ground has been in the hands of the police / their masters the CCP. As in 1977, an intervention targetting the police must now take place to change its destructive unsocial behaviour.
As indicated by this excerpt from a letter sent to China as a Member of the United Nations, HKPF has exceeded the bounds of legitimate force that would be acceptable for normal policing operations. The letter written by UN Special Rapporteurs was written on 28 June 2019 and published two months later after the CCP had chosen to remain non-responsive to it:
"While it cannot be excluded that a few individuals may have resorted to violence, demonstrators were overwhelmingly peaceful, thus, we are concerned that international standards related to the policing of assemblies, and particularly the fundamental principles of legality, precaution, necessity, non-discrimination, proportionality and accountability, may have been violated. We are especially concerned about the repeated use of pepper spray and rubber bullets at close range which carries a significant risk of injury."
14. How about the HKPF sending out official Police text messages to everyone owning a smartphone in HK? They tried this in August 2019, to warn people away from Victoria Park where a rally was due to take place. Their phone message incurred the wrath of netizens who complained about the wasteful expense, and lack of police warning for the release of tear gas among other things.
16. Courtesy of the coronavirus pandemic, the HKPF have been given a new weapon to punish protesters. The HKPF already were known to use 'kettling' to inflict harm upon journalists and protesters - a process of encircling demonstrators, and while coercing them to leave the area, deliberately blocking all entrances and exits. Kettling creates chaos and panic, in which tensions flare, violence increases and arrests become inevitable. Think of this as 'kettling 2.0'. The HKPF simply grab and push any random people they see walking by into a huddle of more than four people, then charge you with breaking the Centre for Health Protection regulations that ban gatherings of more than four people.
Okay, you might only be served with an instant fine, but the indignity of it! Of course if you resist or complain, further charges could result. This is an exercise in belittling the people of HK, and the HKPF showing who is boss of the streets!
This has also meant having publicity events like street stalls and exhibitions is fraught with difficulty and danger for organisers. As interested people stop or gather, the HKPF can swoop at any time. The legitimate work of HK legislators and District Counselors has thus been hampered by HKPF, as well as the efforts of HK's stalwart freedom fighters.
17. The HKPF likes to carry out raids. Like the time they raided the executive offices of Apple Daily media mogul Jimmy Lai. It's not always a successful strategy, but it is sure to get a lot of attention when you swarm a building with about 100 officers and take away lots of boxes of stuff. In this case it may have been an attempt to shut down the newspaper altogether. They already tried earlier storming his newspaper production centre.
Then there was the time they raided the much-respected Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI) office (July 2020). PORI were assisting pan Democratic parties to run primary run-off elections to select candidates for the September Legislative Council (LegCo) elections. (The CE later postponed the LegCo electons for 12 months) Media reports indicated that officers from the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau raided the PORI headquarters on suspicion that someone was using their computers dishonestly. At least 10 plainclothes officers proceeded to seize the computers in the research institute to search for evidence. Luckily the instutute had back up computers in a seperate site so the electoral primary was able to proceed unhindered. Pro-democracy legislators claimed the HKPF raid was an attempt to suppress democratic party activity.
18. In a similar but different attempt to knock down their enemy, HKPF shut down a bank account and seized about HK$9million raised by the Spark Alliance group. Police arrested four people for suspected money laundering linked to crowdfunding for ongoing pro-democracy protests. The HKPF froze money belonging to a fund that had raised millions to help support the demonstrations and assist protesters with costs of legal proceedings.
19. After the HKPF had more or less bullied most media outlets for sympathetic or biased coverage of protest activity, and hijacked the whole reporter accreditation process, the force had to resort to setting up its own media team. In the 1 October 2020 National Day protests we saw for the first time that certain officer had helmet mounted video cameras. The HKPF also organised its own live-streamed presenters and extra blue-jacketed police media personnel.
On 29 October HKPF also announced it would produce its own weekly television programme after the "Police Report" show previously broadcast by RTHK was axed back in July. It remains to be seen how effectively this media offensive can alter negative perceptions of the force and low ratings among HK's general public .
20. To really turn your place into a Police State you need officers to be really inhumane and nasty. You could objectify protesters with serious name-calling as a start.
The CE called protesters "enemies of the people" ( November, 2019 ), but perhaps what she really meant to say - like that movie with Will Smith and Gene Hackman in it - was call her opponents "enemies of the state". Calling the protesters 'cockroaches' is another idea the HKPF tried.
Then there was that 'yellow object' incident : Senior Police official Vasco Williams was referring to a protester wearing a yellow high-visibility vest who had been restrained by police, and taken into a dimly lit alley where he was repeatedly kicked and beaten by officers. The reference to the 'yellow object' came as part of his denial of any wrongdoing, suggesting more or less that the officers caught on camera were just kicking around a yellow object in fun.
21. The HKPF have laid charges against people without sufficient evidence to complete prosecutions and managed to set unrealistic bail terms. Freedom fighters have had their lives messed up in ways that are difficult to measure, trials have been delayed interminably by Police prosecutors, and the presumption of innocence that is the stalwart of justice has gone out the window!
22. There are numerous accounts of HKPF attacks on first aiders, and of the HKPF deliberately delaying medical treatment to people detained during demonstrations. If that wasn't enough police officers entered hospitals to antagonise medical staff, to intimidate injured protesters, delve into private medical records, and carry out arrests. (See our blog: Havoc in the hospitals) Medical staff complained that HKPF violated international norms by detaining emergency medical workers and blocking medical treatment being offered to injured people.
23. A recent strategy used by HKPF is to flood an area with officers before any protest they have gotten wind of via social media has even had a chance to gather steam. People entering the area, on foot, by public and private transport are then subject to questioning, arbitrary searches and police intimidation. Large groups are simply not allowed to gather, and Covid-19 prevention is often used as convenient excuse by the police.
The HKPF don't care that this causes traffic mayhem, such as at the harbour crossing tunnels, and is a violation of people's freedom of movement. Of course HKPF action has an effect in dampening down or even preventing protest action before it starts, but it should be noted that frequently businesses also choose to shut down in response!
24. There is a growing body of evidence showing that the HKPF frequently operates in collusion with others - I guess you'd call it team work and cooperation if their aims were virtuous. In May 2020 China's public security ministry pledged to "guide and support" the HKPF after China's parliament approved a decision to impose a national security law on the SAR. This only underlines CCP's intention to take a more hands-on role in law enforcement in the city, while there is much suspicion about earlier engagement with the local force.
During the 2019 protests there was the phenomenon of officers who did not display their HKPF warrant cards, and who seemingly either did not speak at all, or who spoke in Mandarin rather than the local lingo-Cantonese. When members of the People's Liberation Army stepped out of their barracks, ostensibly to help clear roads littered by protesters, many protesters started to wonder whether mainlanders were already embedded in the HKPF. Some could not believe that local police officers so could be so violent and callous towards their own people, and others were convinced that mainland officers would easily believe CCP lies they were fed about HK protesters being violent terrorists, and rioters misled by meddling foreign forces.
25. Beside uncovering and witnessing the work of undercover police agents in their midst, protesters were incited to violence by agent provocateurs who smashed public property and threw molotov cocktails. Other times gangs of thugs, some wielding police batons would suddenly turn on protesters. Sometimes they would wear back to blend in with protesters, while at other times they appeared more like a gang of ill-trained vigilantes.
Media footage indicates that sometimes these mobsters were known to the police, or even supported by HKPF in their attacks on protesters. We don't have a record of how many times uniformed officers did intervene to break up scuffles between protesters and pro-Beijing/pro-government supporters, arresting injured protesters instead of the attackers, or cordially escorting the attackers away from the scene.
26. Then there was the nasty Yuen Long MTR attack on 21 July 2019, in which white clad triad gang members beat people as they got off the arriving train - protesters and regular commuters, adults and children alike. HKPF have admitted plainclothes officers were present in Yen Long before the mob attack, but had failed to prevent the events of that evening.
Though the HKPF have continued to deny they were in anyway involved in promulgating the incident, their excuses for not responding quickly to numerous emergency calls hardly have wings. Legislator Junius Ho has been blamed for suggesting during a village meeting a weel earlier that locals needed to "reclaim their city". Over 12 months later, despite resounding complaints and calls for thorough investigation of the incident, journalist inquiries in Yuen Long revealed that witness statements and CCTV footage had never ever been gathered by the HKPF.
27. What is more, in October 2020 the HKPF turned the tables on protesters critical of the force for their slow investigation, belittling the severity of the incident, claiming that the attack was a 'gang fight'. This was the culmination of a year-long process of gradually chipping away at the public narrative of what happened at Yuen Long. The indignity was that now people who had been assaulted at Yuen Long were being threatened by HKPF with charges of rioting. What a disincentive to complain to Police when YOU are the one prosecuted!
28. During 2019 we saw that the management of some shopping malls cooperated with HKPF, closing public access points, or allowing police squads free reign inside their premises. Some, in contrast, took the side of their shoppers and businesses in trying to keep the police out. For example, four guards and a customer service officer were arrested at a Ma On Shan shopping centre for allegedly obstructing police in the execution of their duty.
29. The operators of the MTR train network earnt the wrath of protesters by ceasing train service to certain locations without notice, at the whim of Police, or even providing service to HKPF carte blanc when it was required. At times the rail network was shut down entirely in an attempt to thwart protests. (See our blog: Are protests on the right track? )
30. In September 2020 the case of the HK12 shows that there is most likely interdepartmental cooperation between HKPF, the government flying service, coastguard and mainland authorities. (See our blog: The fishy tale of 12 Hong Kong activists arrested at sea by China) This news story is far from over! No matter how much the CE and HKPF deny their involvement and responsibility they have not had much success in burying the truth.
31. As if it is not enough for the HKPF to have immunity from prosecution and investigation, allowing them to act however they wish with impunity, there are certain ordinances in HK law that apply to ordinary citizens but do NOT specifically apply to HKPF: e.g Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO). A precedent was set, for example in a 2016 judgement, in (Singh v Secretary for Justice): an 11year old Indian boy took the Department of Justice to court for wrongful arrest and lost the case as the RDO does not specifically cover police operations. This also says something about the discriminatory way the HKPF polices minorities who call the SAR their home. Just consider how the CE and HKPF behaved after the Kowloon Mosque was sprayed with blue dye during police operations in Tsim Sha Tsui. This attempt by HKPF to 'divide and conquer' thankfully failed.
32. Though regulations require organisers of large scale rallies and marches to gain HKPF consent to hold their event, it has previously been considered more of a logistical, common sense requirement to mitigate traffic congestion and ensure people's safety during legally approved protest action. However, the Public Order Ordinance (POO) has been manipulated by HKPF in recent years, making it more difficult for organisers to publicise their events, and gain police approval. (See our blog: Lawfare not Warfare)
Events like the annual candlelight vigil that is usually held at Victoria Park on June 4 to honor victims of the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, were canceled this year for the first time ever. Police cited the need to enforce social-distancing rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus as the justification for the ban.
33. Topping that off, HKPF have chosen to cancel their previously given approval with little or no notice, effectively branding all who attend and who are unable to leave immediately as lawbreakers:
Victoria Park, 1 January 2020; "The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the umbrella group which organised the march, had permission for the march from city authorities, but they were ordered to end it soon after the clashes began." CNA
"The march was eventually called off at 6:15 p.m. at the request of police, although thousands remained in the area and many had yet to set off from the starting point at Victoria Park." Bangor Daily News
Chater Garden, 19 January 2020; "Prominent Hong Kong activist Ventus Lau was arrested after a rally he organized at Chater Garden yesterday was marred by violence, with three police officers injured after being hit in the head with sticks and other objects after they called for a premature end to the assembly", Coconuts Hong Kong
"Lau’s group, the Hong Kong Civil Assembly Team, said police arrested him on suspicion of obstructing an officer and for violating conditions stated on the police letter of no objection for the rally." Hong Kong Free Press
34. Protesters note that HKPF enforce Covid's social distance rules selectively, and never act when pro-Beijing groups or government supporter groups gather. Case in point: Just before National Day celebrations on 1st October 2020 several dozen members of a pro-Beijing group staged a rally in Edinburgh Place in Central to demonstrate their determination to "protect" the national flags flying in the territory. Those present did not even appear to be wearing face masks!
10 May, 2020, Apple Daily showed inconsistency of HKPF policing: Union members distributing free face masks and sanitary items were ticketed and fined HK$2,000 each by officers for breaching the gathering rule, while there was no Police presence at similar events hosted by pro-Beijing people. [Reddit]
35. More tear gas! More pepper spray! Get those water cannons working! Just wilfully ignore the manufacturers' recommendations on their safe use. (See our blog: Mandates of the UN special rapporteurs 29 January 2020 on HK Police tear gas, rights & freedoms) Aim for the head and eyes. Shoot at women and children, the elderly, media and first aiders too!
Who cares if you kill or blind anyone, protesters or not?
36. Here's an on-going strategy of the HKPF: slap your protester with one offence, make that stick in court, then bide your time to find more targeted charges to lay on them in a retrospective manner. This is what appears to be happening to activist celebrities like Joshua Wong, or Jimmy Lai.
Some activists have even found themselves charged with offences against a colonial-era sedition law still listed on the HK statutes book. Activist Tam Tak-chi, for example, had already been arrested a few times before he was charged (17 September 2020) under a colonial era sedition law, apparently for using anti-police slogans as well as the common protest phrases “liberate Hong Kong” and “five demands, not one less” in January, and at street booths between March and July on seven occasions. Not for the first time, he was denied bail.
People from any walk of life could suddenly find themselves slapped with charges from 2019 protests, or worse, a charge for doing something contrary to the deliberately vague NSL. Everyone knows that the CE's claims that the legislation would only target "small groups of illegal criminals" (BBC news Chinese), "a handful of people" (BBC), "a tiny minority" (Barrons), is utter bullshit.
Some are saying that even the CE's prior claim that the NSL would not be retroactive looks increasingly in doubt with certain people itching to make prosecutions - to challenge dissent, to make examples of people!
37. It's enough that the HKPF have already violated important articles of the UN United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), but how about preventing people leaving HK as is their right under Article 12? We can hear the murmuring from CCP intent on enslaving all people within China's borders! Why else would the CCP be so concerned about the #HK12 who apparently attemped to leave HK with the intent of going to Taiwan? But isn't Taiwan supposedly a part of China, I ask??
38. Just announced (28 October 2020): A new hotline number for informants who wish to report those who they suspect are breaking the NSL. This is not like "Ghostbusters"! The "multi platform" hotline will reportedly be set up next month. We have seen police hotlines before, and not just in HK. The difference here is that there is a special branch of NSL Police here in HK with direct links to CCP and everything that implies.
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Despite all the HKPF wrong doings, the CE continues to back her uniformed brutes, denying again and again the loud calls for an independent investigation into police use of force from many quarters. Amnesty International, for example has entreated HK authorities to launch an investigation of numerous occasions:
Evidence of police violence against protesters verified (21 June 2019);
Full investigation needed into police response to protests (4 September 2020);
Arbitrary arrests, brutal beatings and torture in police detention revealed (19 September 2019);
Investigate shooting of protesters after ‘another low’ in police use of force (11 November 2019);
Sexual violence against Hong Kong protesters – what’s going on? (20 December 2019);
Lessons for Hong Kong from around the world (17 February 2020);
Lack of accountability for police violence could fuel unrest, (5 March 2020).
(See our blogs on the matter of the independent investigation into HKPF that is one of the HK protesters' 5 Demands: The Evolution of a Police Inquiry)
In June 2020, 50 UN Special Procedures mandate holders issued an exceptional letter of concern, calling on the People’s Republic of China to respect human rights.
6 October 2020, a statement was issued by German Ambassador to UN representing 39 countries. In the statement he said: "...that a number of provisions in the Hong Kong National Security Law do not conform to China's international legal obligations. We have deep concerns about elements of the National Security Law that allow for certain cases to be transferred for prosecution to the Chinese mainland. We urge the relevant authorities to guarantee the rights which are protected under the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) and the Sino-British Joint Declaration, including freedoms of speech, the press and assembly."
It's clear the HKPF is acting as the donkey for the HK Government who wishes to crush any dissent, to pretend there is no opposition to them, that there is stability in HK.
The HKPF was also behind the 1977 political crisis in HK when they mutinied against the government: then, armed, they surrounded the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) head offices in Central and demanded it be closed. The police were found by ICAC to be corrupt. The British Governor underpressure had to give the police amnesty for their corruption todate! See our blogs: Amnesty part 1 and this more detailed account of protest in the SAR: People of Hong Kong make the place)
There's no doubt the pro-democracy and anti-government protesters have managed to test the ability of HKPF to maintain its control in the last couple of years, but this has come at great personal expense for so many, especially to young people. For example, the injured first aider who was kicked out of home by his own parents.
We don't know how many freedom fighters may have lost their lives in HK due to forced suicides, or the true extent of suffering experienced by those detained and incarcerated by HKPF (See our blogs: Coroner said not suicide; who killed Vietnamese male Le Van Muoi in Hong Kong prison? ; The naked body of 15 year old protester Miss Chan Yin-lam found at sea RIP (part 2) ; R.I.P. Alex Chow Tsz-Lok. Love and light always! ).
Continuing to resist the HKPF with all its resources and manpower is not going to be easy, but it's clearly a challenge that requires strategic thinking and not brute violence. Just as people are learning so much from the HK experience, we think it's worth studying the tactics and strategies of successful democratic movements elsewhere. (See our blog: Serbian revolution notes: Srdja Popovic of student movement 'Otpor')
Talking about "expense", let's consider the monetary aspects of HKPF operations. In response to 2019 protests HKPF has been granted extra funding for more overtime hours, more uniformed officers, and more equipment and armoured vehicles. They even re-hired 1000 retired officers.
In fact the CE even chose to reward no fewer than 94 members of the HKPF on 1st October 2020 during a ceremony held to mark China's National Day, during which she made a rather hollow claim that 'peace had been restored' to the city. The reality was that HKPF officers were stationed on virtually every corner of the Causeway Bay shopping district, searching everyone from the young to the elderly. During the course of that afternoon, police cordoned off dozens of people, lined them up against a wall, handcuffed them and marched them away. By 6 p.m., police said they had arrested 69 people, including two local legislators known as district councilors.
Two of the HKPF award recipients honoured by the CE for their service to the territory during the 2019 pro-democracy protests were British. Rupert Dover and David Jordan, are both assistant commissioners in the HKPF, and Mr Dover was one of the six ground operations commanders tasked with controlling the protests last year.
This all seems to be part of the CE's initiative to create a narrative of upholding the law in HK, when in reality freedom, justice, democracy and tenants of law have been put through the shredder!
I am sure the disbanding of the current HKPF is inevitable because no one wants to live under the cloud of a Police state, and it's not what the people of HK would wish for.
No matter what the CE says, or whatever other officials say it, no matter what kind of compensation is offered to make up for their wrongdoing, they are all already discredited.
In the minds and courts of public opinion the CE and so many of her compatriot legislators are all disqualified from any future role in the governance of HK.
They have willingly and without compromise turned the SAR into a Police State just to hold on to their vestiges of power. This is unlikely to be lightly dismissed or forgotten either in HK or in other nations that uphold universal values of freedom and democracy. Carrie Lam and CCP will try to rewrite the historical record of events, but we must not forget, and it falls upon us to record our own version of history.
We hope you will consider reading our other blogs on HK Police matters:
Hong Kong people roar! Condemn the Police for sexual violence
For an in-depth exploration of the history of protest in Hong Kong (without any editing by the Chinese Communist Party) please read this:
These UN letters to China on HK protests are always fertile grounds for readers: Mandates of the UN Special Rapporteur 28 June 2019 and Mandates of the UN special rapporteurs 29 January 2020 on HK Police tear gas, rights & freedoms and Mandates of the UN special rapporteurs 19 February 2020 on arrests of HK medics during protests and Mandates of the UN special rapporteurs on HK's National Security Law of 1 September 2020.
29 October 2020, Hong Kong's ranking in global law and order index drops from fifth place to 82nd, SCMP
29 October 2020, Pompeo slams China, calls for immediate release of three student activists arrested by Chinese-controlled Hong Kong Police Force, MSN