Hong Kong human rights activists denounce escalating violence used by police and protesters in ongoing extradition battles

Sum Lok-kei

Local human rights activists on Monday expressed concern over injuries suffered by protesters and police during a bloody clash in Sha Tin on Sunday, pointing out that both sides had increased their levels of violence as the protests continued.

The confrontation left 28 people injured, including 13 police officers – one of whom had part of his finger bitten off. Video footage and photographs showed protesters bleeding from head wounds and one having his wrist bent back by police after being subdued.

Icarus Wong Ho-yin, a member of Civil Rights Observer, said the situation was worrying.

“Injuries to both protesters and the police have become more serious,” he said.

Injuries to both protesters and the police have become more serious

Icarus Wong, a member of Civil Rights Observer

Law Yuk-kai, the director of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor and who was at the protest, said police and protesters were hostile to each other. He urged the force to take a softer approach to future protests to avoid further bloodshed.

The protest in Sha Tin started as a peaceful march on Sunday afternoon that organisers said drew an estimated 115,000 people.

Minor scuffles broke out after the march ended, but the situation intensified after 9pm (9am US Eastern Time), when police tried to clear protesters from streets in Sha Tin.

Protesters instead retreated to New Town Plaza, a shopping centre linked to the Sha Tin MTR station, where they faced off with police in riot gear.

The Hospital Authority said 28 people sought help from emergency rooms at public hospitals after the clash on Sunday night, with 18 hospitalised.

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By Monday evening, six remained at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin and Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po. One of the victims was said to be in serious condition; the rest were stable.

A police source said Chief Superintendent Wong Wai, head of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau, was among the 13 injured officers. The source said a detective suffered a skull fracture after being struck in the head.

Protesters clash with police outside the Sha Tin swimming pool on Sunday. Photo: Felix Wong

He added that an anti-triad constable was knocked out by an unknown object in the shopping centre, but regained consciousness in hospital.

In another incident, the source said, a sergeant had part of his right ring finger bitten off by a protester.

Another source said the sergeant had surgery and was in stable condition on Monday, but did not explain how the incident happened.

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Photos taken during the clash showed the sergeant with a group officers apprehending a male protester at 9.54pm.

According to the University of Hong Kong student’s publication, Undergrad, the male protester was an alumnus of the university and was gouged in the eye before he was arrested.

Another officer, who wore a helmet and held a shield and a baton, was seen dashing into a crowd of protesters alone at 9.53pm.

Medical volunteers render aid to a demonstrator inside New Town Plaza shopping mall on Sunday. Photo: Bloomberg

News footage showed the officer on an escalator when he was kicked from behind and tumbled toward the bottom of the stairs.

About 10 protesters then surrounded the officer, kicking and bashing him with umbrellas until they were stopped by Council Front lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and a video journalist.

The pro-democracy group Demosisto said one of its members had his wrist “bent 180 degrees” by police.

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News footage showed the Demosisto member, Chu Yan-ho, being subdued on the ground outside the bus terminus under New Town Plaza at around 9.45pm. A police officer was then seen bending the protester’s wrist.

Demosisto’s chairman, Ivan Lam Long-yin, said it was unlikely that Chu’s wrist was broken even though the action had caused Chu great pain.

An unnamed male protester was seen bleeding from his forehead near the entrance to Sha Tin MTR station after he was apprehended by police and had his hands tied behind his back.

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