UK suspends export of tear gas, rubber bullets to Hong Kong following protest violence

UK suspends export of tear gas, rubber bullets to Hong Kong following protest violence

Hong Kong was rocked by the worst political violence since its 1997 handover to China on Wednesday
Tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong were dispersed by riot police firing tear gas and rubber bullets. (Photo: AFP/Isaac Lawrence)

LONDON: Britain urged Hong Kong on Tuesday (Jun 25) to conduct an independent investigation into clashes between police and protesters, and suspended export licences for crowd control equipment.

READ: Violence breaks out as police try to clear Hong Kong protesters

"We remain very concerned with the situation in Hong Kong," Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told MPs in parliament's lower House of Commons.

"I today urge the Hong Kong SAR government to establish a robust, independent investigation into the violent scenes that we saw.

"The outcome of that investigation will inform our assessment of future export license applications to the Hong Kong police.

"And we will not issue any further export licenses for crowd control equipment to Hong Kong unless we are satisfied that concerns raised on human rights and fundamental freedoms have been thoroughly addressed."

READ: Hong Kong activists renew protest against extradition Bill

READ: Hong Kong police slam 'illegal, irrational' HQ protest

A Foreign Office source said there were currently no live licences for these kind of exports, but there would now be no new ones until conditions were met.

The last UK export licence for tear gas hand grenades and tear gas cartridges for Hong Kong police to use in training was issued in July 2018, the ministry said earlier this month.

The last export licence for rubber bullets was in July 2015 while an open licence for riot shields was rejected in April 2019.

Hong Kong has been rocked by the worst political unrest since its 1997 handover from Britain to China.

READ: Thousands converge on Hong Kong police headquarters in fresh anti-government protests

READ: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam apologises, says she hears the people 'loud and clear' on extradition Bill

Millions have marched this month to oppose a hugely unpopular proposed law that would have allowed extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

Officers used tear gas and rubber bullets last week to clear protesters during another massive demonstration outside the city's parliament.

Source: AFP/jt/ga(rw)

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