04/01/2020, 10.21
HONG KONG - CHINA
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Arrested and beaten by police for remembering victims of Prince Edward station violence

by Paul Wang

Dozens of people gathered to remember the victims of the violence of August 31st. For the coronavirus emergency, gatherings with more than four people have been banned for four days. Police accused of abusing emergency law. 58% support the democratic movement born out of resistance to the extradition law. 63% want the resignation of Carrie Lam, chief executive.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Dozens of people were arrested and beaten by the police yesterday evening while they were having an informal gathering to mark seven months since the police violence inside Prince Edward's subway station.

During the "831" incident, as it is called because it occurred on the evening of August 31, 2019, law enforcement officers are accused of using excessive force using pepper spray, throwing tear gas and using sticks to beat young people returning from an anti-extradition demonstration as well as casual subway passengers. Riot police officers sealed the station for a few hours. Many people suspect that they also killed some people, although the Hong Kong government denies that there were victims.

Gatherings to commemorate the victims of that violence have become an end of month ritual. Also yesterday, a few dozen people gathered to lay flowers, burn incense sticks and chant some slogans in front of the station.

But yesterday, in the afternoon, the police surrounded the station exits and ordered people to dissolve the "illegal" rally.

Any gathering with more than four people is considered "illegal" as of March 29, to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The demonstrators claim that they observed the safety distance. The police first lined up several of them and then arrested them. At least two people were injured in a scuffle with officers.

Human rights groups and Democratic Party members accuse law enforcement agencies of abusing the new law to stifle all freedoms.

The coronavirus emergency, which limits public gatherings, does not seem to have cooled the movement born in June 2019 to request the cancellation of an extradition law. Soon the various demonstrations that continued uninterrupted for months every weekend became a movement for democracy and civil liberties that China would like to stifle.

According to a Reuters investigation, at least 58% of the population supports the movement in March; 28% are against it. More than 63% want the resignation of chief executive Carrie Lam, considered "a Beijing puppet".

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