Hong Kong protests: 180 police officers injured, families 'bullied and intimidated'

Hong Kong protests: 180 police officers injured, families 'bullied and intimidated'

Police fire tear gas at anti-extradition Bill protesters during clashes in Sham Shui Po
Police fire tear gas at anti-extradition Bill protesters during clashes in Sham Shui Po in Hong Kong, on Aug 14, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

HONG KONG: About 180 police officers have been attacked and injured during the Hong Kong protests, with their families subjected to "intimidation and bullying", the Hong Kong government said on Sunday (Aug 18).

A government spokesperson "expressed regret" over the rally held on Sunday "by an organisation targeting the police as its slogan".

READ: Hong Kong protesters rally in Victoria Park to show 'peaceful' credentials after chaos

Sunday's protest was described as a "rational, non-violent" demonstration by organisers the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the driving force behind record-breaking rallies in June and July that saw hundreds of thousands of people hit the streets. 

Protesters gathered on Sunday in Victoria Park to show the city's leaders their protest movement still attracts wide public support despite mounting violence. 

protesters march near the Tin Hau MTR station in Hong Kong
Protesters march near the Tin Hau MTR station in Hong Kong on Aug 18, 2019, in the latest opposition to a planned extradition law that has since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city. (Photo: LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA / AFP)

Protesters hold banners during rally to demand democracy and political reforms in Hong Kong
Protesters hold banners during the rally to demand democracy and political reforms in Hong Kong, China Aug 18, 2019 (Photo: Reuters/Kim Hong-ji)

Some protesters were seen holding placards that read, "Police stop killing Hong Kong" and "Stop shooting".

Flyers from Sunday's protests also depicted the authority negatively.

POLICE LIVING QUARTERS "SEVERELY VANDALISED", FAMILY BULLIED

The government spokesperson on Sunday said the police only used "minimum force" when they had no choice.

"After numerous public processions and public meetings held in the last two months, radical and violent protesters repeatedly charged police cordon lines, deliberately blocked roads, vandalised public facilities, set fire in various locations, attacked police officers with offensive weapons, and threw bricks and petrol bombs," the spokesperson said.

"Many police stations were attacked or besieged for over 75 times. The police have been handling these illegal acts with tolerance."

Protesters Harcourt Road near the LegCo during a rally Hong Kong Aug 18
Protesters stand on Harcourt Road overlooking the Legislative Council during a rally in Hong Kong on Aug 18, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Lillian SUWANRUMPHA)

He added that police officers' family members were also "under different degrees of intimidation and bullying".

"Their living quarters were severely vandalised and women and children residing there were frightened and disturbed."

He added added the government "highly respected" the public's right of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech, and appealed for them to conduct the protests in a peaceful manner.

Sunday's rally was an attempt to wrestle the narrative of the protest back after chaos ensued at the Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday. Police and protesters scuffled, with protesters seen attacking police with batons and one officer pointing his gun at them. Police also used pepper spray to push the crowds back.

Riot police use pepper spray to disperse anti-extradition bill protesters during a mass demonstrati
Riot police use pepper spray to disperse anti-extradition Bill protesters at the Hong Kong International Airport on Aug 13, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

A Hong Kong policeman falls backwards during a scuffle with pro-democracy protesters at Hong
A Hong Kong policeman falls backwards during a scuffle with protesters at Hong Kong's International Airport. (Photo: AFP/Manan Vatsyanana)

READ: In photos: Hong Kong airport protests turn violent after standoff over suspected undercover officer

READ: Chaos erupts at Hong Kong airport as protesters clash with police

Amid the violence, services at the airport were also disrupted, leaving passengers stranded.

Ten weeks of demonstrations over a proposed law allowing extradition to mainland China have plunged the financial hub into crisis with images of masked black-clad protesters engulfed by tear gas during street battles with riot police.

Battles between police firing tear gas and rubber bullets - and hardcore protesters using rocks, Molotov cocktails and slingshots - have since become routine in the city.

Protesters on Sunday nonetheless pushed to show they are peaceful.

"They’ve been telling everyone we're rioters. The march today (Sunday) is to show everyone we are not," said a 23-year-old named Chris, who works in marketing and was dressed all in black, including a scarf covering his face and baseball cap, according to Reuters.

"It does not mean we won’t keep fighting. We will do whatever is necessary to win, but today we take a break, then we reassess."

One protester shouted at others who were jeering at police, "Today is a peaceful march! Don’t fall into the trap! The world is watching us," prompting the group to move on.

"We have tried many times with peaceful approaches ... I really hope the government can listen to us," protester Ray Cheung, 30, told AFP.

Source: Agencies/CNA/aa

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