Rights Groups Blame Hong Kong Police For 'Fanning Flames' of Violence

2019-11-18
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China's President Xi Jinping speaks at a press briefing at the end of the final day of the Belt and Road Forum at the China National Convention Centere at the Yanqi Lake venue outside Beijing, April 27, 2019.
China's President Xi Jinping speaks at a press briefing at the end of the final day of the Belt and Road Forum at the China National Convention Centere at the Yanqi Lake venue outside Beijing, April 27, 2019.
AFP

Rights groups hit out at Hong Kong police on Monday

for 'fanning the flames' of violence as desperate protesters remain trapped inside the Polytechnic University (Poly U) and hundreds more waged pitched battles with riot police in Kowloon.

Amnesty International called the police siege of Poly U one of the most violent confrontations of the five-month-old protest movement, laying the blame on the police.

"By laying siege & firing tear gas & rubber bullets at people trying to flee, Hong Kong Police are again fanning flames of violence when
they should be trying to defuse it," the group said via its Twitter account.

"It is the police’s responsibility to de-escalate this situation, but instead of assisting injured protesters trapped at the University they are unlawfully arresting the medics attempting to treat the wounded," it said.

 



The U.S.-based group Human Rights in China also condemned police action in and around Poly U, "trapping students, journalists, and first aiders, and reportedly handcuffing the latter group."

Video footage circulating online of scenes from early morning Nov. 18, Hong Kong time, showed police chasing and grabbing students inside campus at around 5:30 a.m., as well as police firing tear gas at cars on a highway near the campus driven by citizens intending to help with evacuation; and injured students being carried out of campus at around 6:00 a.m, it said.

Jin-Guang Teng, President of Poly U, said he had negotiated a temporary cease fire with police "under the condition that if the protesters do not initiate the use of force, the police will also not initiate the use of force."

"We have also received permission from the police for you to leave the campus peacefully and I will personally accompany you to the police station, to ensure that your case will be fairly processed," Teng said.

A few hundred students and teachers are believed to be trapped in the Poly U campus.

One frontline protester apologized to his parents for taking part in the defense of the campus, saying that they had warned him never to become a frontline fighter.

"I'm sorry that I was unable to fulfill this wish," he said. "I have nothing to leave them, even though they raised me. I just hope we'll be able to sit down again for a family meal."

"I left yesterday without telling them. They don't know I'm here today."

Students don't trust the police

One worried parent told RFA they fear he will have criminal charges pinned on him by the authorities, just for being at Poly U.


"He's just a kid," the parent said. "The government has thought about what it was they did to make young people come out in protest today."

"They will avoid the issue forever, and they're not listening to the people."

Poly U student spokesman Owan Lee said the students didn't trust the police enough to leave peacefully.

 

1992 Concensus

Han said the figures didn't trouble him.

"The polls lag behind," he said. "The DPP is stupidly focused on opinion polls as a way of winning power, but I think you gain control of the country by winning over the hearts and minds of its people."

Soong is also running on a platform that favors maintaining the sovereignty of the Republic of China -- which now controls the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu -- rather than supporting a specifically Taiwanese identity on the world stage.

But there was no mention at his campaign launch of the 1992 informal accord between Taiwan and China that has been roundly rejected by Tsai during her presidency, to Beijing's fury.

That understanding, known as the 1992 Consensus or the "one-China policy," saw both the Taiwan-based Republic of China and the People's Republic of China under the Chinese Communist Party as different expressions of the same entity -- China -- effectively blocking Taiwan from membership in international bodies and from forming diplomatic ties in its own right.

Since her election in 2016, Tsai has rejected the agreement as infringing on Taiwan's de facto sovereignty, and vowed to defend the island's freedoms and democracy after Beijing warned it wouldn't wait indefinitely to annex the island, by force if necessary.

Beijing wants to rule Taiwan under the "one country, two systems" concept used to take back the former colonial cities of Hong Kong and Macau.

Tsai has been an outspoken critic of the Hong Kong government since the anti-extradition, pro-democracy protest movement gripped the city in early June, and has repeatedly warned that Taiwan could suffer a similar loss of freedom and democracy if it entertains China's plan.

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Since her election in 2016, Tsai has rejected the agreement as infringing on Taiwan's de facto sovereignty, and vowed to defend the island's freedoms and democracy after Beijing warned it wouldn't wait indefinitely to annex the island, by force if necessary.

Beijing wants to rule Taiwan under the "one country, two systems" concept used to take back the former colonial cities of Hong Kong and Macau.

Tsai has been an outspoken critic of the Hong Kong government since the anti-extradition, pro-democracy protest movement gripped the city in early June, and has repeatedly warned that Taiwan could suffer a similar loss of freedom and democracy if it entertains China's plan.

 

Reported by Hsia Hsiao-hwa and Lee Tsung-han for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Chung Kuang-cheng for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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