I wasn't scared of tear gas but I was when I was groped, 'Christine' says
A woman has alleged that she and other female pro-democracy activists were sexually assaulted by a man opposing the Occupy movement in Causeway Bay on Friday - and that police did nothing about it.
The woman, who would only give her first name, Christine, said she was standing as part of a human chain when the man lay on the ground, grabbing hold of one woman's leg for a number of minutes before groping another woman's groin. She said he then crawled towards her, stood up and grabbed her breasts.
"When he got up he was facing me. He pushed me and grabbed my breasts really hard," Christine said. "I felt very, very scared, insulted and threatened.
"I yelled, 'That guy has assaulted me'. The police were there but they didn't really do anything," she said.
Other people at the scene had shouted at the man to move, but he refused to leave the women alone, she added.
The incidents occurred as anti-Occupy groups attempted to remove barriers and destroy tents. Similar incidents were reported in Mong Kok.
Human rights group Amnesty International condemned the police for failing to act. "Women and girls were among those targeted, including incidents of sexual assault, harassment and intimidation," Amnesty said in a statement. "Hong Kong's police failed in their duty to protect hundreds of peaceful pro-democracy protesters from attacks by counter demonstrators on Friday evening."
Christine reported the incident to officers and was taken to a police station to make a statement. But she asked to leave part way through giving the statement as she was in shock. She was told she had to stay as the man had accused her of kicking him - which she denied. She said the police tone changed and she felt threatened until her lawyer came and established that she was free to go as she had not been arrested.
"I wasn't scared of the tear gas but I was scared of this. It was non-violent but it was more violent," she said.
The police could not be reached for comment.
A video clip circulating on social media filmed in Mong Kok shows an older man in a white polo shirt violently groping a young woman he is arguing with. The woman is seen backing away as the man grabs her breasts.
'We were offered HK$500 to go to Mong Kok', Tin Shui Wai teen says
Young people living in Tin Shui Wai say they have been offered cash to stir up trouble at the Mong Kok protest site and give police an excuse to make arrests.
Harry Lam, a 19-year-old student who lives just outside Tin Shui Wai, one of the city's poorest districts, said he and some of his friends had received the offer by WhatsApp message on Thursday morning.
"We got offered HK$500 to go to Mong Kok, to tear down the signs and shout and make noise. They want us to make trouble so that the police have an excuse to stop the protest and arrest people," said Lam.
He said he was sure the WhatsApp message was genuine as he knew of people accepting the offer and receiving the money. He suspected the money was coming from the mainland.
"There are lots of people from the mainland living in Tin Shui Wai and some of them support China," said Lam. "Most people in Tin Shui Wai are good, but there are some people - I suppose you can call them triads - are not good people, they want to make trouble," said Lam.
Another student, who did not wish to be named, said he had heard of sums as high as HK$800 for the day, and HK$2,000 to HK$3,000 for the protest period, being offered to attempt to create a riot.
A poster listing the six rules of protest for students led with two pieces of advice: Keep calm; and don't attack the police or it will destroy the campaign. Reports of impending trouble at the Mong Kok protest site were circulating among students at the Admiralty and Causeway Bay sites on Thursday.
"If we don't come out now and speak, we won't get democracy. But it is important that we do it peacefully - this is a peaceful protest, we can't let bad elements destroy what we have achieved so far," said Lam.
Chloe Ng, 14, joined the Admiralty protest on Thursday but it had her mother worried. "I have only one word to describe CY: bad. I had to come out and see this for myself. This is an important time for Hong Kong," said Ng.