Arrested protesters complain of ‘police violence’ during clearing of Lung Wo Road
Two more protesters who were among the dozens of people arrested on Wednesday have told their version of events and expressed their anger over how Hong Kong police handled the clearing of Lung Wo Road.
Police used tear gas and arrested 45 people to forcibly free the road in Admiralty early on Wednesday morning. Video footage aired by broadcaster TVB of protester Ken Tsang Kin-chiu being beaten for several minutes while under police custody has since caused outrage.
On Thursday, seven police officers allegedly involved in the beating were suspended and an internal police investigation has begun.
At a press conference only hours after the clear-out operation, Senior Superintendent Tsui Wai-hung said 37 men and eight women had been arrested for illegal assembly. No protesters had reported any injuries, Tsui said, but four police officers were hurt during clashes.
One 20 year-old protester said he was kicked in the head and struck with batons by four or five officers before he was detained. "They pushed me to the ground and kicked me while some hit me with batons," said the man, who only gave his surname Au.
He was among those who blocked the tunnel to traffic by building a makeshift roadblock out of drainage covers. At 2.45am on Wednesday morning, a police spokesperson said the tunnel would be cleared and at 3am a group of police officers, some carrying shields and wearing riot gear, began to follow through on their orders.
“It all happened very quickly," said Au, when asked if he was warned before he was arrested, "My goggles were wrapped with cling film so I couldn’t see very clearly."
He said he was holding an umbrella in anticipation of pepper spray the moment before he was subdued. "They tried very hard several times to pull my necklace and mask off my neck," he said, while showing a mark on his neck. He sustained injuries to his forehead, neck and an ankle, he said.
Au, who works as a waiter, said police asked him if he had been paid and to which triad he belonged during his 20-hour detainment.
"The officer said he knew that both those who wear the yellow and blue ribbons were paid, and asked me if I was paid HK$2,000," he said. Au denied being a triad member, and was allowed to leave on a HK$500 bail. He is due to report back to police in mid-November.
The yellow ribbon has become a symbol of the pro-democracy protesters, while protesters who oppose the occupation of roads often wear blue ribbons.
A 20-year old student, who asked to be identified by his surname Chan, said police officers pushed him to the ground and kicked him. He said he was detained "before he realised what had happened".
"I was standing on the road separator and all I did was watch what’s going on," he said, "I didn’t even have any goggles or mask with me. All I had was an umbrella," he said.
He said several officers kicked him but he sustained no heavy injuries. During his 20-hour detainment, he was fed and he had no complaints except that "officers were quite slow in each process" and "waiting to go to the restroom alone each time took more than half an hour”.
"Most of the people I met [when I was detained] said the arrests were made pretty randomly," he said. "A reporter who forgot to bring his press pass was arrested too and was released only a bit earlier than me."
Chan said he joined the democracy protests mostly to support his mother who had been active in the democracy movement since police fired tear gas on demonstrators on September 28. His mother waited for his release outside North Point Police Station.