Police indiscriminately arrest 464 civilians, severely exploit human rights by over-50 -hour detention
A massive, New Year’s Day solidarity march against the Hong Kong government had to be called off three hours after it began as violence broke out on the sidelines, with 464 intercepted, 287 arrested for unlawful assembly in Causeway Bay. Arrestees include 3 volunteers of Civil Rights Observer, 2 social workers and one newly elected district councilor. “It is the first time any of our observers have been arrested since the time was set up in 2018, we strongly condemn police for these indiscriminate arrests,” Wong Ho Yin, a member of Civil Rights Observer said.
Professor Clifford Stott, Dean for Research Faculty of Natural Sciences of Keele University in the United Kingdom, ex-member of International Experts Panel for Hong Kong Independent Police Complaints Council. He twitted on 2 January: “The problem is the public order ordinance allows police to define a situation as ‘riot’ which renders everyone physically present as acting illegally thus enabling mass arrests. I think this is in objective tension with the Basic Law, which protects freedoms of peaceful assembly.”
Arbitrary arrest against journalist, observers, social workers, district councilor, first aiders and members of Protect Our Kids Campaign
Other than the arrested volunteers of Civil Rights Observer, 2 social workers were assisting the leaving civilians and stopping police’s violent acts against arrestees before being indiscriminately arrested by police, according to a front-line social worker. Jeffrey Sin Kam-Ho, a newly elected Sham Shui Po district councilor, was also arrested in Causeway Bay. 2 firemen, 1 doctor, 6 members of Protect Our Kids Campaign, 1 reporter from Social Record Channel and a few voluntary first-aiders were arrested.
Police: Some arrestees might be innocent
In a briefing late on Wednesday, Ng Lok-Chun, senior Superintendent of Hong Kong Island, denied police had made arbitrary mass arrests. “When we had our first dispersal operation yesterday, rallygoers left. Those who came out again deliberately blocked roads,” Ng said. Police had set up a cordon as they could not be sure whether the arrestees posed a risk to others and also to prevent any attempts to snatch arrested people away, Ng added.
Obstructed media coverage
Deliberately Obstructed media from reporting by expanding the area of lockdown. Police even park a few vans by the road to stop journalists’ shooting. Around 200 civilians were trapped and detained on the street by police at Percival Street and Yee Wo Street for over 3 hours. According to some released civilians, police did not give immediate aid to the unwell people, one of them was sent to hospital due to heart disease.
According to a released civilian, a man felt unwell during the detention outside Causeway Bay Plaza. The man told police officers that he has heart disease but an officer teased at him instead. “Why didn’t you tell people about your heart disease during the hours-long rally?” and dragged him away. The unwell man was detained at around 8p.m., and finally sent to hospital at 11p.m.. During the 3 hours wait, he did not receive any medical care. A woman suffered from asthma was not allowed to take the pills.
The released civilian explained that he was arrested when he walked passed Causeway Bay Plaza II, “I was walking towards Wan Chai when the police repeatedly fired rubber bullets.” During the detention, police were verbally rude to him, including the senior officers who used foul languages. When he was finally released, a female officer threatened him with “You are just temporarily let go” and “we have your ID number and pictures”. He criticized the arbitrary arrest.
Refused to receive clothes and drinks for the arrested
On 3rd January 2020, families of the arrestees arrived at The North Point Police Station. They were not allowed to enter so they waited outside together. As the temperature dropped, some of them tried to send clothes and drinks to the arrestees but got rejected by police officers. Police claimed that they must not help pass the items because there might be something else inside the drinks or clothes. More than 10 social workers were there to support the families.
Car Park as a provisional detention room
A lawyer who went to the police station said there were around 170 arrestees inside The North Point Police Station. Due to space constraints, some of them were kept in custody in provisional detention room, which is the outdoor area near police car park.
Forbidden family members from meeting the arrestees
A family member had entered the police station after 2 hours of waiting, but not allowed to meet the arrestee. He was asked to put down the supplies in a report room and leave. Police officers claimed that they will transfer the supplies to arrestees.
According to some families, some supplies are forbidden, such as food with bones, tableware and water. Therefore, it was common to bring them hamburgers and fried rice. Some families complained that the food already turned cool when passed to arrestees because it took a long time to wait. It is also very unhygienic to eat since police checked the food boxes by putting their hands inside.
Forced the released people to wear grey
At 8p.m.m of 3rd January 2020, arrestees had been detained for over 40 hours and 40 people were released on bail. The released ones were given a set of grey clothing. People waiting outside set up a temporary changing room with umbrellas, shower curtains and mops for the released people to change into casual wear.
Delayed arrest and exploited civilians’ rights to go to toilet
A voluntary first aider detained on 1st January criticized police for misleading the general public. As what she had witnessed, over 300 people were told to stand stills for over 2 hours before getting searched by police. Some requested to go to toilet but were rejected. She waited for one hour before getting the permission of going to toilet. She said some detained civilians were forced to “do it there”, and therefore a bottle of urine was found at the scene. It was very humiliating and inhuman.
A voluntary first aider Vicky was still very angry about the humiliating treatment given by police. “There were at least 60 riot police and PPRB team at the scene but no one do the search, they were just standing there to watch us.” Together with 20 first aiders, they had prepared their identity cards and Standard First Aid Certificates for search, but ended up waiting for 2 hours. We were commanded to stand still, like a punishment. The first group of released civilians left at 10p.m..