Hong Kong protests: student reporter alleges police officer made reference to sexual assault in threats during arrest

Chan Ho-him

A student reporter detained while covering a protest at a shopping mall in Hong Kong has alleged that a police officer used threatening words referencing sexual assault as he was being arrested.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Nelson Tang Chak-man, a year three journalism student at Baptist University, said he was “extremely frightened” when two or three riot police officers turned and dashed towards him and then pushed him into a corner in the Cityplaza shopping centre in Tai Koo Shing at about 9pm on Sunday, around two hours after a bloody knife attack outside the mall.

Tang said he was reporting for the student union’s editorial board and was not taking part in the demonstration, one of a number of protests in malls across the city on Sunday.

“I am overwhelmingly furious about officers’ use of sexual expressions regarding San Uk Ling to harass and threaten me,” Tang said, referring to a police holding centre hit by allegations of maltreatment of anti-government protesters detained there.

Nelson Tang was arrested on Sunday night. Photo: Edmond So

The city’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, announced in September that San Uk Ling Holding Centre, located at a remote site in Sheung Shui, would close. Concerns had been raised about the centre after a number of protesters detained there were later hospitalised.

Tang said he was not wearing a vest or helmet that identified him as a journalist but he showed his press card and student membership certificate from the Hong Kong Journalists Association to officers.

He said he was arrested for “disorder in a public place” and detained for 18 hours at Chai Wan Police Station. He was released on bail. The Post has contacted police for comment.

At a separate event, a student reporter surnamed Chan from Polytechnic University’s student union press committee, who was standing next to Tang during his arrest, said police were shouting in a “threatening tone” as they waved batons and pepper spray canisters in front of journalists’ cameras, demanding they step back.

Chan said Tang shouted some profanities at officers and later got arrested.

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In a letter to students and alumni on Monday, Baptist University president Roland Chin Tai-hong said the institution was “deeply concerned about the well-being of the student [Tang]”, and a lawyer had been sent to provide help and to ensure he received “fair and proper treatment”.

On Sunday, protesters gathered in different malls across Hong Kong as the city experienced its 22nd straight weekend of social unrest. In Tai Koo Shing, six people were injured during the frenzied knife attack – which followed an argument over politics – including a district councillor who had part of his ear bitten off.

District councillor Andrew Chiu had part of his ear bitten off. Photo: Handout

Before Tang spoke, about 50 students gathered at a sharing session on campus in solidarity with him.

Student journalists from other universities also complained that police had increasingly targeted them during protests.

Meanwhile, more than 100 people joined a sit-in at Shue Yan University in support of a year one psychology and counselling student whose back was badly burnt after being hit by a police tear gas canister in Causeway Bay while acting as a first aider on Saturday.

Baptist University student union holds a rally to support Nelson Tang. Photo: Sam Tsang

Students, staff and alumni shared their thoughts on the incident, and many said they felt “saddened” as they criticised police behaviour. Two banners, saying “support our schoolmate, condemn police brutality”, were displayed at the venue.

Separately, at the Open University, about 100 students, many in masks, joined a rally to support alumnus Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, the district councillor who had part of his ear bitten off on Sunday in an attack. Chiu is recovering after reattachment surgery.

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