About 40 elderly Hong Kong protesters – known as the silver-haired gang – gathered in the rain outside police headquarters on Sunday to begin a 48-hour sit-in to show support for anti-government comrades allegedly abused by the force.
The group chanted protest slogans, such as “Hongkongers, resist”, at the Wan Chai demonstration and held banners that read “old but not useless”. They also displayed posters of what were purported to be X-ray images of injuries sustained by protesters during and after arrests.
The silver-haired group organised a rally in July that attracted an estimated 9,000 people.
For 65-year-old Mr Yau, the rally on Sunday was the latest in a long history of protests he had attended.
“It’s my duty to come out today as an elder because I see many young people being mistreated and victimised by the police, who then try to cover this up with lies,” said the semi-retired driver, who said it was crucial for him to speak out because all his family and friends were pro-government.
“Every time I am able to come out, I do.”
Kenny Shiu, 63, said he had not missed a protest since June. He described how he frequently saw Raptors – the nickname of an elite task force of the Hong Kong police – violently subdue young protesters during crackdowns. He said he suspected he had not been targeted because of his age.
“When arresting people, they should behave calmly and not use violence,” he said. “We tell protesters not to run, because the police will go after them even more fiercely. We also tell the police that we are videotaping their actions.”
As the rain intensified, some of the elderly protesters donned raincoats and sat on the stairs of a pedestrian walkway as the protest anthem Glory to Hong Kong played from a portable speaker.
Linda Mak, a 64-year-old retiree, said the main reason she joined the sit-in was to protest against police violence, especially the allegations of sexual violence by protesters, including Sonia Ng, a student at Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Even though I am in the peaceful camp, I will do my utmost to support the frontliners
Linda Mak, a 64-year-old retiree
“These victims are all like my children – and the police are violating our human rights by doing this. I don’t see how I’m doing anything wrong by protesting,” she said. “Even though I am in the peaceful camp, I will do my utmost to support the front-liners.”
A police spokesman had previously denied accusations of excessive force, insisting instead that officers had exercised “restraint, tolerance and patience”.
“Only when there were violent acts or illegal behaviours which endangered the safety of people at the scene, would [officers] stop them with proportionate use of force to prevent the incidents from heating up and worsening,” the spokesman said.
Mr Yeung, 49, was one of the younger protesters in front of police headquarters in Wan Chai on Sunday. The engineer said his main reason for joining the sit-in was deep unhappiness with the government.
“Hong Kong has no rule of law any more. Police enforcement of the law is not equal [and] citizens have no power to challenge the police’s wrongdoing,” he said. “None of the cases of police brutality or deaths have been properly investigated – so it’s no wonder we don’t trust the police or government.”
He continued: “The world sees what’s happening in Hong Kong, they don’t believe in ‘one country, two systems’ any more. In four or five year’s time, I believe all foreign investments will be taken out of Hong Kong.”
The city has been rocked by more than four months of continuous anti-government protests. The crippling unrest was triggered by a now-dead extradition bill, but grew to encompass greater demands including full democracy. As the protests have gone on, violence has steadily escalated on both sides in response to allegations of serious police brutality.
This article Elderly Hongkongers protest outside police headquarters in Wan Chai in support of alleged abuse victims first appeared on South China Morning Post