Police Pepper Spray Protestors During Hu Jintao’s Hong Kong Visit

July 1, 2012 5:12 pm Last Updated: September 22, 2015 9:17 pm
Hong Kong police fire volleys of pepper spray against protesters demonstrating against Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Jintao. (Pan Zaishu/The Epoch Times)

Hong Kong protestors were pepper sprayed and a reporter was detained for calling out a question about the Tiananmen Squre massacre during Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Jintao’s three day visit to Hong Kong, marking 15 years of Chinese communist rule under the “one country, two systems” policy. 

Protestors hoping to personally deliver a petition to Hu during a rally on June 30 were hit at close range with pepper spray when they attempted to break through police barricades set up outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, where Hu was attending a banquet.

A parade and rally, which attracted about 1,000 people, were organized by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China (the Alliance), a pro-democracy organization formed in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and the Hong Kong-based Civil Human Rights Front. 

The groups collected over 100,000 petition signatures demanding an investigation into the death of Li Wangyang, a Chinese labor activist who was detained by Chinese authorities for 21 years, and was reportedly hanged in a hospital room recently. Chinese authorities first reported his death as a suicide, but later changed it to an accidental death. The suspicious death and circumstances surrounding it, have sparked public outrage and widespread demands for an independent investigation.

After a standoff with the police for several hours, at 8 p.m. representatives of the Alliance and the Civil Human Rights Front were permitted to enter the hotel where Hu was staying to submit their petition. The petition was received by Liu Wenda, deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office.

Hong Kong police fire volleys of pepper spray against protesters demonstrating against Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Jintao. (Pan Zaishu/The Epoch Times)

According to Apple Daily, a Hong Kong tabloid with pro-democracy leanings, journalists reporting Hu’s visit to Hong Kong were also closely monitored by police and state security agents. 

While reporting Hu’s visit to a new cruise ship terminal in Hong Kong, a reporter from Apple Daily shouted out a question from behind a security cordon: “Chairman Hu, have you heard that Hong Kong people hope for a redress of the June 4 incident?”Apple Daily reported. The June 4 incident refers to the 1989 student-led democracy demonstrations, which ended in a violent military suppression.

The report said plainclothes police quickly took the reporter away and detained him for 15 minutes. He was told that he was “loudly disrupting order and breaking the rules.”

A protester rinses his eyes with water after being hit with pepper spray by Hong Kong police. (Liang Lusi/The Epoch Times)

Apple Daily also reported that another of its reporters was taking photos of Hu’s motorcade when a sniper from a helicopter sighted him and shined a yellow light on his face and eyes as a warning until the reporter left the area. 

During the banquet on June 30, reporters working in a press area located far from the speaker’s stage, were under guard by police and state security officers, and were required to ask for permission before going to the restroom. 

Hong Kong police used a large number of water-filled crowd control barriers during Hu’s visit. Hong Kong immigrant to Canada, Mr. Chen, told The Epoch Times that Hong Kong police have become more like Chinese police. Before the 1997 handover from the UK to the People’s Republic of China, there were hardly any instances of police using pepper spray or water-filled crowd control barriers, he said. 

The Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor condemned the police for abusing their power, violating freedom of the press, and failing to maintain political neutrality. The Monitor also raised concerns about police using force to remove reporters taking photos during the parade on June 30, according to Apple Daily.

The Apple Daily reporter, who had been detained by police, later wrote in the paper that he felt a strong sadness after the ordeal. He also criticized the Hong Kong government for suppressing freedom of assembly and the press, commenting that Hong Kong’s residents are like “frogs being cooked in boiling water, and the frogs are dying.” 

Read the original Chinese article

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