A boy and girl, both 13, were released on bail on Sunday after being arrested on Saturday night in the 16th straight weekend of protests in Hong Kong.
The boy, identified by his surname Kong, was arrested in Tseung Kwan O for “possession of offensive weapons” after police found a laser pen and a can of spray paint on him, the force revealed on Sunday.
Separately, the girl was arrested in Tuen Mun for burning the Chinese flag.
“It is hard to understand how the laser pens and spray paints are weapons, unless the police can see or have evidence of the boy using it to attack someone,” said Billy Li on-yin, the convenor of the Progressive Lawyers Group. “There is no sufficient indication to regard laser pens and spray paint as offensive weapons.”
Li said there were three possibilities where an object could be considered a weapon, including if something is a weapon by nature, such as a gun, or if something has been adapted into a weapon, such as a toothbrush with a sharpened handle. The third situation is where someone is found using an object to attack or attempt to attack another person, or if someone said they would use the object as a weapon.
He said the arrests of minors and adults was worrying not because of age, but rather because they appeared to be arbitrary.
“Minors are less informed about their rights when they are under arrests however, which makes the situation more concerning,” Li said.
Kong was arrested with another male suspect, 19, surnamed Chan. The latter was held over illegal assembly, police said. Officers were responding to a call about a fight on Tong Yin Street, Tseung Kwan O at about 11pm on Saturday, where some protesters had gathered. The two suspects had reportedly pointed lasers at police.
After the pair were taken away, residents surrounded the local police station, and officers later fired at least two rounds of sponge grenades, as well as pepper sprayed the crowd, according to media reports.
The crowd eventually left at about 2am on Sunday.
Police have yet to announce total arrest figures for Saturday’s unrest, which started with an authorised march in Tuen Mun that descended into chaos, where police fired tear gas as protesters blocked roads and set fire to barricades.
In Yuen Long, a sit-in occurred at the MTR station to mark two months since a mob in white with wooden sticks and metal rods attacked protesters and commuters.
Earlier on Saturday, calls by pro-Beijing groups to remove protest posters and notes from “Lennon Walls” across the city drew lower-than-expected turnouts.
Since June 9, more than 30 young people, aged between 12 and 15 have been arrested by police for taking part in protests against the now-withdrawn extradition bill. Police have said they follow appropriate protocol when handling cases involving children or teens, but social workers have criticised the use of the Juvenile Court to punish protesters.
On August 31, three suspects aged between 13 and 15 were removed from their parents’ custody after police obtained a care and protection order from the Juvenile Court. The 15-year-old boy was eventually released and placed on curfew until his next court appearance on September 27.
Separately, the Good Neighbour North District Church said on its Facebook page that a man, 73, known as “Uncle Chan”, who had gone on a hunger strike as part of the protests, was not arrested on Saturday.
Speaking to reporters at Lai King MTR station on Sunday, he said: “I was just trying to negotiate with police and they suddenly pepper sprayed me. Police have been trying to dig up evidence on me to arrest me, but they can’t find any.”
Uncle Chan said he’s recovered from being pepper sprayed last night and criticised his treatment at the hands of police.
Vdeo: SCMP/Laurie Chen pic.twitter.com/kIkJnnBmIU
— SCMP Hong Kong (@SCMPHongKong) September 22, 2019
The elderly volunteer with the “Protect the Children” group is often spotted trying to convince police not to arrest protesters. He was on Saturday seen being pepper sprayed by police and taken to a back alley in Yuen Long, leading to fears he was arrested.
The church said Chan was doing well after receiving treatment for his injuries.
On Sunday night, a pastor with the church wrote on Facebook that a volunteer who had been arrested was allegedly assaulted by police in a back alley before he was taken away, and suffered from dizziness and a bleeding mouth.
A video taken by a Yuen Long resident from her home above the alley showed a man in a yellow vest like the ones worn by Protect the Children volunteers being surrounded by at least 20 police, one of whom kicked him twice. The church said the man in the video was the arrested volunteer and that it was waiting for him to be released to take further action.
This article Boy and girl, both 13, released on bail after being arrested on Saturday night amid Hong Kong protests first appeared on South China Morning Post