HK democracy group files complaint to UN over alleged abuse
HONG KONG: A Hong Kong pro-democracy group said on Tuesday it had filed a complaint with the United Nations over what it described as abuse of anti-government protesters held in custody in the Chinese-ruled city. The prominent democracy group Demosisto cited three protesters as saying they had been physically and verbally abused by Correctional Services Department (CSD) guards while in detention, including being beaten and slapped in places without CCTV surveillance cameras.
CSD did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The city government has not commented on the accusations. Hong Kong police have in the past denied using excessive force during protests, saying they have acted with restraint in the face of violent unrest. Joshua Wong, secretary-general of Demosisto, said the inmates’ treatment fell under the definition of “torture” as laid out in the UN Convention Against Torture, and the complaint had been sent to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The three protesters, whose names were given only as Tom, Ivan, and Jackson, were all held in PikUk Correctional Institution, a centre in the district of Sai Kung that is used for inmates aged 21 or under, Wong’s group said. They were detained as the novel coronavirus closed courts and they waited for Hong Kong’s judicial system to determine their fate over charges related to anti-government protests. Nearly 9,000 people have been arrested and 1,671 people charged since anti-government protests escalated in June last year, according to police.
According to Demosisto and city legislator ShiuKa-chun, at least 34 male protesters have been remanded in custody in PikUk since June 2019. Of those, 14 are still in detention. The CSD said it does not have data on the number of people in detention related to the protests.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam accused foreign governments on Tuesday of “double standards” in their reaction to Beijing’s plans to impose national security laws on the city, pointing to anti-police brutality protests in the United States. In her first public appearance after Washington said it will remove Hong Kong’s preferential treatment in US law in response to Beijing’s plans, Lam warned countries threatening actions against the city that they may hurt their own interests.
“They are very concerned about their own national security, but on our national security…they look through tinted glasses,” Lam told a weekly news conference. “In the US, we see how the riots were being handled by the local governments, compared to the stance they adopted when almost the same riots happened in Hong Kong last year.”
Having lost patience with Hong Kong after large-scale and often-violent pro-democracy protests in the Chinese-ruled city last year, Beijing authorities last month advanced plans to introduce laws tackling secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference. The laws could also see Chinese intelligence agencies set up shop in the global financial hub. US President Donald Trump, saying Hong Kong was no longer sufficiently autonomous from Beijing as promised at the time of the 1997 handover of the territory by Britain, said Hong Kong will no longer be treated differently from China in US law.
Hong Kong and Beijing authorities insist rights and freedoms will be preserved, remarks echoed by Lam on Tuesday. She said “public concerns” about the legislation were understandable as a draft was yet to be finalised. In Washington, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse peaceful demonstrators near the White House on Monday as Trump vowed a massive show of force to end violent protests over the death of a black man in police custody. Dozens of US cities remain under curfews not seen since riots after the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Police in some places were also seen joining marches and kneeling in solidarity with the protesters. (Reuters)