Police questioned over vigil

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 June, 2011, 12:00am


Members of a police watchdog have questioned crowd control measures at the June 4 vigil in Victoria Park, as the event's organiser vowed to lodge a complaint alleging an attempt to limit access to the venue.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, organiser of the vigil in Victoria Park in remembrance of the June 4 crackdown in 1989, has accused police of diverting the crowd to narrow, distant entrances to the park on Saturday to delay entrance and limit the numbers attending.

Although the alliance has yet to file a complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Council, members of the council - including one who was directly affected - urged the police to look into the allegations.

In previous years, participants could enter the park from Tin Hau MTR station in 10 minutes. But a nearer entrance was blocked this year and the crowd spent an additional half an hour walking to other entrances, the alliance says. People were also stopped from getting to the football pitches where the main stage was located before they were fully occupied, it said.

At a council meeting yesterday, Dr Helena Wong Pik-wan, one of the 20 members, said her husband was sent to a distant entrance while she was sitting on a football pitch.

'Only one third of the last football pitch was filled, but the crowd was already barred from entering,' she said, adding that the Basic Law guaranteed freedom of assembly.

'Police responsibility is to facilitate assemblies. But now there are conspiracy theories saying there was a political agenda,' she said.

At the meeting, Wong also questioned police representatives about the closure of major entrances into the park earlier than in previous years.

Duncan Stuart, chief superintendent of the police complaints and internal investigations branch, said safety of the public remained a top consideration in crowd control.

Meanwhile, alliance chairman and lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan doubted safety was the reason behind the diversions. 'People needed to climb a flight of stairs and the path there was narrower. It was even more dangerous for the crowd,' he said.

Lee said he suspected a political objective in reducing the number of people going into the park.