High-school students in Hong Kong on Tuesday swelled the ranks of the anti-extradition movement by forming human chains on school campuses on the second day of a general strike, amid a renewed storm of criticism over police violence against protesters.
A schoolboy was taken to hospital after police chased a group of high-school students who had gathered outside a school, as a video clip was widely shared online showing panicked scenes and a police officer pinning a boy down on the ground at the Confucian Tai Shing Ho Kwok Pui Chun College in Tai Po.
A local community organiser for the localist group Civic Passion, Wong Siu-kin, said he saw a student being taken into an ambulance with what appeared to be a bloodied nose and with his trousers ripped.
Police said both the boy and the officer in the video had fallen because of the slippery floor.
"Our officers gave chase, just to conduct inquiries," a spokesman told government broadcaster RTHK. "During the process, several people including our officers fell on the ground because of the slippery floor. Some were injured and sent to hospital for treatment and no arrests were made."
As Hong Kong entered the second day of a general strike in support of the anti-extradition movement, more than 200 students and alumni of Holy Trinity College and The Church of Christ in China Ming Yin College formed a human chain outside their schools in Shek Kip Mei in a 20-minute protest during which some wore face-masks, local media reported.
Chanting "Reclaim Hong Kong! Revolution in our time!" and "Meet all five demands!", the students broke off their protest after reports that the police were called, reports said.
Protesters are calling for the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws, an amnesty for hundreds of arrested protesters, an end to the description of protesters as rioters, an independent inquiry into police violence and abuse of power, as well as fully democratic elections.
'Excessive force' by police
Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Bar Association hit out at police violence during attacks on train passengers at Prince Edward MTR station at the weekend.
"Video footage from the Prince Edward MTR station last Saturday night show[s] riot police launching indiscriminate attacks without any apparent lawful excuse and using pepper spray on passengers inside a train compartment or hitting them with batons, especially since the officers in question left the train carriage afterwards without making any arrests," the HKBA said in a statement on its website on Tuesday.
"The fundamental duties of the Police Force are to protect the life, safety and well-being of residents," it said, citing video evidence of the use of "excessive force" on many occasions since protests began to escalate in early June.
"Excessive crowd dispersal techniques have included the indiscriminate use of tear gas (including inside an MTR station) and the shooting of crowd control projectiles at shoulder height level or above at close range," the HKBA said, adding that beatings during arrests are "widespread."
The group said its members had experienced obstruction at police stations, where arrested protesters were denied timely access to lawyers, as well as suffering "non trivial" injuries during mistreatment and abuse during detention.
"The HKBA condemns any abuse of power by the Police Force," it said, calling for an independent public inquiry into police behavior.
The Hong Kong Journalists' Association (HKJA) also hit out at police treatment of the media, who were ordered to leave Prince Edward MTR station during Saturday's attack.
"Many reporters and photographers were expelled during their reporting and filming without any reasonable explanation," it said, calling on the police to "provide a reasonable explanation for their action."
Police on Tuesday released Ivan Lam, chairman of the pro-democracy political party Demosisto, on bail after arresting him on suspicion of "illegal assembly" during a protest outside police headquarters on June 21. Former 2014 protest figures and fellow Demosisto leaders Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow were also arrested and bailed on similar charges last Friday.
And Demosisto deputy chairman Isaac Cheng was attacked by three unidentified men near his home in the New Territories town of Tai Wai, the party said via its Twitter account.
"Our vice chairman @IsaacChengCKL was just assaulted near his home in Tai Wai by three men," the tweet said. "He was repeatedly punched in the face and lost his glasses. Our members are now accompanying him to a hospital check-up."
China pledges questioned
Cheng told RFA that the attempt to intimidate protesters with unidentified attacks wouldn't work.
"We have see marches of one, two and 1.7 million Hong Kong people on the streets even after the government arrested people, so there is no way to stop this movement through intimidation," Cheng said.
"The use of force by the government and the police is increasingly disproportionate and outrageous," he said. "We believe that our pursuit of justice and democratic values weighs more heavily than these attempts at intimidation."
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday denied that she had ever tried to resign, following the release of a leaked audio recording by Reuters that features her talking about about her desire to step down.
"If I have a choice, the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology, is to step down," Lam told a private meeting with business people last week that was secretly recorded and leaked to Reuters.
But she told journalists in Hong Kong on Tuesday: "I have never, I have never tendered a resignation to the Central People’s Government. I have not even contemplated to discuss a resignation with the Central People’s Government. The choice of not resigning is my own choice."
"I told myself repeatedly in the last three months that I and my team should stay on to help Hong Kong, to help Hong Kong in a very difficult situation and to serve the people of Hong Kong," she said, saying that she would prefer the "easier path."
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said the chief executive's apparent impotence indicated that the promises made to Hong Kong of a "high degree of autonomy" and "Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong" were meaningless.
"If Carrie Lam doesn't even have the power to tender her own resignation, then clearly the promise of a high degree of autonomy and Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong was a barefaced lie," Lam Cheuk-ting said.
"If our chief executive can't even decide whether or not to remain in office, then how can we speak of autonomy?"
The amendments to existing extradition laws are widely seen as a threat to Hong Kong's way of life, which was supposed to have been protected under the "one country, two systems" framework under which the former British colony was handed back to China in 1997.
If they become law, the city could lose its status as a separate legal jurisdiction and trading entity, while journalists, visitors, rights activists, dissidents, democratic politicians, and the business community could be targeted for words and actions deemed illegal by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, and extradited to face trial in mainland Chinese courts.
Reported by Wen Yuqing and Man Hoi-tsan for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Gao Feng for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.