400 people arrested at the start of the year. Hong Kong police apologies and denials
Over a million people attended the march. For the police, there were only 60,000. After some clashes, the order came to evacuate the demonstration in half an hour. Law enforcement officers accused of arresting innocent people; ejecting journalists; of being allies with the vandals. The police superintendent denies everything.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The first New Year's pro-democracy march, which gathered over one million people, ended in a hurry yesterday afternoon by police order, after some clashes between law enforcement and extremists in the Causeway Bay and Wan Chai area. At least 400 people were arrested for throwing Molotov cocktails, bricks, stones and vandalizing some stores linked to China, as well as a headquarters in Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC).
The demonstration, organized by the Civil Front for Human Rights (Chrf), one of the promoters of the most numerous public anti-extradition and pro-democracy demonstrations, had received approval a few days ago.
At a press conference late yesterday evening Ng Lok-Chun, Hong Kong police superintendent, explained that at 5.30 pm the law enforcement officers ordered the dissolution of the demonstration, as violence was taking place and gave half an hour of time for the evacuation of 1.03 million people (although the police say there were only 60,000 people). Meanwhile, there has been a crescendo in the use of tear gas and clashes.
In a public statement, the Chrf criticized the request for evacuation in such a short time and the arrogant and provocative style of the police towards the demonstrators, also seen in videos posted online where policemen are seen, threatening to arrest everyone and chasing away reporters.
During the press conference, Ng denied that the police intentionally kicked journalists away. He also apologized because the arrests were made quickly and there could be innocents among them. In fact, in addition to many ordinary people, among the arrested there are also three members of the Civil Rights Observer, a monitoring group that arose in 2018.
Ng has denied that there are collusion between police and vandals. According to local media reports, two masked men broke the windows of the China Life Insurance headquarters in Wan Chai, and when the riot police came close to them, they would have said: "We are on the same side" and the police officers have them let go.
Ng denied the accusation, saying that "the police would never damage public property."
At the demonstration, participants continued to ask for answers to the "Five Questions", including the urgency of an independent investigation into the excessive use of force and the suspected collusion of the police with the local mafia after the Yuen Long incidents.