Hong Kong extradition law: Police under scrutiny following accusations of violence against protesters

Victims cannot complain about poor treatment because the officers did not have their numbers displayed on their uniforms

Susan Ramsay |

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Anti-riot police have been accused of being too violent.

The recent protests in Hong Kong have caused many citizens to lose faith in the police. The Special Tactical Squad officers have been accused of being too violent when dealing with anti-extradition bill protesters. But victims cannot complain because the officers did not have their numbers displayed on their uniforms.

Usually every police officer has an identity number on them, so that if a member of the public wants to make a complaint (or give them a compliment), they can easily be identified. So, people were worried when police stopped displaying these numbers, since June 12.

Last Wednesday, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said there was no space on the uniforms of the Speedy Dinosaurs, as they are affectionately known, for officers to show their numbers. His explanation sparked anger and online mockery.

Many people took to social media to complain that even contestants in beauty pageants were able to wear numbers during the swimsuit portion of the show.

Photos from SCMP and other media show the “Dino” officers always showed their numbers on their uniforms during the 2014 Occupy Central movement, the 2016 Mong Kok riot, and as recently as June 9.

Icarus Wong Ho-yin, convenor of the NGO Civil Rights Observer, said: “The police did it deliberately. If citizens want to complain about officers abusing their power, how can they do it if they don’t know their numbers? [Lee] was insulting Hongkongers’ intelligence by saying there was no space on the uniforms.”

To repair the force’s image, Wong said an independent committee should be set up to look at how police handled the protests.

In response, a police spokesman repeated Lee’s remarks that the force would review the matter and follow up. He said the squad’s uniforms were designed according to operational and strategic needs.

Meanwhile, the spokesman said the force had found that the personal information of more than 400 officers, and about 100 of their family members, was posted online.

Police would follow up and offer help to those affected, he said.

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