Executive Director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division: Shocked that Irritants were Mixed into Water Cannon Sprays
On 13th December 2019, in an interview with the Stand News, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division Brad Adams pointed out that foreign police only use water cannons for dispersion purposes. He was shock and concerned that the Hong Kong Police would mix irritants into water cannon sprays and shoot towards protestors. Adams believes that the “blue water” must be tested for its chemical composition.
Adams often visit Asian countries to observe demonstrations, and he has also been to the “anti-extradition” protests, including the siege of PolyU. What concerned him most is the unheard practice of police mixing chemicals into water cannons and shooting them at protesters. He saw from media clips that PolyU protesters were in extreme pain after being shot with water cannons, and they had to wash themselves with detergent before going back to the frontline. “How long have they been doing this for?” Adams asked the journalist.
Adams was deeply concerned when he pointed out that water cannons have always only used plain water, and had never heard of police in other countries spray chemicals from water cannons. Even if it’s only blue dye, which he believes should not be added to the water cannon, he believes that the chemical composition of the “blue water” should be tested for toxicity. “The purpose of water cannons is not to injure, but to disperse, right? What is the purpose of adding chemicals that are believed to be toxic and harmful to the skin to the water?” Because the police shoot indiscriminately (with water cannon), not against people who exercise violence, “there may be peaceful protesters and people sitting in the street, neither of which is a crime. It is definitely indiscriminate use of force and the police should not shoot toxic substances at them. There shouldn’t be any indiscriminate use of arms on the battlefield; and as a police force, there shouldn’t be any indiscriminate use of arms, which is illegal.”