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Hong Kong SAR Government Must Ensure Effective De-escalation of Dangerous Police Action at PolyU

November 17, 2019

HRIC condemns the Hong Kong police’s actions on and around the campus of Hong Kong Polytechnic University after trapping students, journalists, and first aiders, and reportedly handcuffing the latter group. Video footage circulating online of scenes from early morning November 18, Hong Kong time, shows police chasing and grabbing students inside campus at around 5:30 a.m.; police firing tear gas at cars on a highway near the campus driven by citizens intending to help with evacuation; and injured students being carried out of campus at around 6:00 a.m.

At a little before 7:00 a.m., the Hong Kong online media outlet Stand News reports that Jin-Guang Teng, President of PolyU, has announced in a video message an offer from the police for a temporary suspension of the use of force, “under the condition that if the protesters do not initiate the use of force, the police will also not initiate the use of force.” Teng continues, “we have also received permission from the police for you to leave the campus peacefully and I will personally accompany you to the police station, to insure that your case will be fairly processed.” Teng also assures that PolyU will provide needed counseling for students.

Amid a still evolving volatile situation, HRIC urges the Hong Kong authorities to take proactive and unconditional steps to de-escalate the situation, including issuing clear orders to the police to refrain from the use of lethal force against protesters and others still trapped on campus.

“Chief Executive Carrie Lam must take immediate responsibility for the crisis—a crisis created by her failure to address the concerns of millions of Hong Kong people over the past six months of protests,” said Sharon Hom, Executive Director of Human Rights in China. “Continuing to allow the police to conduct deadly urban warfare against the population will only further fuel public anger, more violence, and more protests.”

HRIC urges all members of the international community to continue to support the key demands of the protest movement, including the establishment of an independent commission to investigate reports of police abuse and violence and to monitor and urge the Hong Kong government to insure the full protection of the rights of anyone during the removal, detention, and arrest, and of all persons accused of any illegal acts.

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