Hong Kong’s safety chief on Wednesday claimed that protesters within the metropolis had been “receiving coaching from abroad teams,” echoing Beijing’s “hostile overseas forces” narrative in regards to the ongoing pro-democracy motion.
Secretary for safety John Lee advised lawmakers: “Judging from the strategies utilized by the rioters [frontline protesters], we undoubtedly consider that they’ve been educated, and never simply right here, however they’ve been educated by folks abroad.”
However he gave no proof of any such coaching exercise past an assertion that the subtle techniques utilized by protesters to arrange and get their message out instructed it have to be occurring.
“If we have a look at the strategies they use and their publicity and communications, which come out in many alternative variations, [we see that] there’s a completely different objective or narrative for every one,” Lee stated.
China’s official narrative since anti-extradition protests broadened into wider requires extra democracy and accountability have been to label the protests a pro-independence motion instigated by hostile overseas forces infiltrating Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong authorities habitually refers to frontline protesters as “rioters,” a time period usually employed by the ruling Chinese language Communist Get together to explain mass, largely peaceable protest actions on the mainland.
Nevertheless, a current ballot by Reuters discovered that the majority of Hong Kong’s residents help the 5 calls for of the protest motion, with extra than one third of respondents saying that they had attended a protest.
Solely 30 p.c stated they have been opposed, in contrast with 59 p.c of these polled who supported the motion.
Independent public inquiry
Frontline protesters, journalists and human rights teams say the majority of violence has originated with the Hong Kong police, who have been broadly criticized for the extreme use of tear gasoline, water cannon, pepper spray, in addition to each non-lethal and reside ammunition weapons on unarmed protesters.
The New York-based group Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday wrote to the administration of chief govt Carrie Lam calling for an impartial public inquiry into using pressure by police.
“Hong Kong authorities have worldwide authorized obligations to examine alleged abusive police conduct,” HRW China director Sophie Richardson stated in a press release on the group’s web site. “They’ve failed to take action within the face of calls from Hong Kong residents, authorized consultants, and rights teams, lacking essential alternatives to reveal a dedication to human rights and the rule of regulation.”
Police have arrested practically 7,000 folks, and fired greater than 16,000 rounds of teargas, 10,000 rubber bullets, 2,000 beanbag rounds, and 1,900 sponge grenades, HRW stated.
“An impartial fee of inquiry is step one to addressing the intense human rights violations in opposition to protesters since June,” Richardson stated. “Hong Kong police have to be held accountable to the regulation – not simply to their bosses.”
Whereas Lam has formally withdrawn broadly hated plans to alter Hong Kong’s extradition legal guidelines, she and her officers have repeatedly dominated out assembly the opposite 4 calls for for an inquiry into police violence, an finish to using the time period “rioters,” an amnesty for arrested protesters and totally democratic elections.
In the meantime, there are issues that the federal government is planning a wider crackdown on dissent in a metropolis that was promised freedoms of speech, affiliation and publication underneath the phrases of its 1997 handover to China, in addition to safety from official abuse of energy.
Warrantless search of communications gadget
Joshua Wong, a former pupil chief of the 2014 Occupy Central motion who was arrested at a protest outdoors police headquarters final 12 months, stated police had submitted proof to the court docket that would solely have been obtained from his cellular phone, which he had refused to hand over or unlock for them.
Lee stated cops are permitted underneath the town’s mini-constitution, the Primary Regulation, to train a warrantless search of communications gadgets discovered on a suspect in “exigent,” or pressing circumstances the place proof might in any other case be misplaced.
Whereas Wong has stated that the data submitted in proof might solely have been obtained by hacking into his cellular phone, Lee refused to reply questions on how such searches is perhaps achieved when questioned within the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Wednesday.
Wong, like many different peaceable protesters, faces prices of “organizing, inciting, and collaborating in unauthorized meeting.” He has already served jail time for public order offenses linked to his position within the Occupy Central motion.
Hong Kong schooling officers have additionally warned that academics and different college staff discovered posting content material to social media that’s supportive of the protests might face sanctions, together with the lack of their instructor registration.
The federal government has but to specify precisely what kind of social media content material might jeopardize a instructor’s place, however has stated that what academics do of their spare time will probably be considered a part of their skilled conduct. Present laws say academics could also be penalized in the event that they “appear probably” to develop into concerned in felony proceedings.
Reported by RFA’s Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.