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A Hong Kong protester throws a petrol bomb at an MTR station on December 1, 2019. Photo: Reuters

LettersHong Kong police: criticism of action during protests ignores scale of violence

  • Over 590 police officers were injured and 61 hospitalised during the protests that rocked the city for months
  • The seizure of explosive material and ammunition testifies to the danger posed by the movement
The violent protests which rocked Hong Kong from mid-2019 are behind us. However, one continuing feature is the relentless attempts to smear the Hong Kong Police Force.

Nobody would argue that the response of the police to the events of 2019 was perfect; however, despite intense, orchestrated rioting, no fatalities and few serious injuries were caused by police action, and no PLA (People’s Liberation Army) soldiers were deployed on our streets.

Over 590 police officers were injured and 61 hospitalised, some sustaining life-changing injuries.

This newspaper recently published an article by former Hong Kong police officer Martin Purbrick, which touched on the force’s handling of the violent protests. The same author in his Twitter posts alleges Hong Kong is a “21st century police state”, calls its officers “bullies and thugs” and hails Agnes Chow as a hero of the Hong Kong people” arrested for “a contrived offence.
Let us be clear. Chow pleaded guilty to inciting and taking part in an unauthorised assembly and was jailed for 10 months, related to the besieging of police headquarters by thousands of protesters who blocked entrances and impeded police response to emergency calls. A “contrived offence”? Really?
The same author, who tweeted in July 2020 that there was no (his emphasis) terrorist threat in Hong Kong, ignores the jailing of ex-Hong Kong National Front member Louis Lo for 12 years in April for possession of TATP explosives found during a raid in July 2019. The trial judge stated that Lo “came close to declaring war” on society by creating “terror among citizens”.

Hong Kong security chief aims to ‘nip extremism in bud’ with anti-terror law

Purbrick ignores the seizure of a Glock pistol and 105 rounds of ammunition in North Point on December 8, 2019, the day before two improvised explosive devices were found near Wah Yan College in Wan Chai; or the events in Tai Po on December 20, 2019, when a young man fired a handgun at police and an AR-15 assault rifle and 200 bullets were seized in a follow-up raid.


The saga of the siege at Hong Kong's PolyU

The saga of the siege at Hong Kong's PolyU
Purbrick and others dismiss the 1,000 page IPCC report on the 2019 disorder because it does not fit their narrative.

Concluding that officers generally acted within guidelines though there was room for improvement, I quote from the report’s conclusion – “It cannot be overemphasised that allegations of police brutality must not be made a weapon of political protest.”

Ian Cowieson, chief inspector, Hong Kong Police Force