Parents and students have refused to join a big event organized by the Hong Kong police as the force faces a barrage of criticism over its use of force during operations to clear protesters from the streets.
The “JPC Fight Crime Summer Camp” – a major annual event held by Junior Police Call, a youth liaison group – was originally due to be held on Wednesday, but ended up being canceled after a boycott by camp helpers and low enrollment from students.
The summer camp attracted around 1,000 students aged from nine to 25 last year, according to the police website. This year, a day camp and an overnight camp were planned at Wu Kwai Sha Youth Village from August 13 to 16.
But as of last Wednesday, only 70 people from three of the city’s 2o districts had enrolled in the camp. And with more camp helpers refusing to attend, those 70 students also decided not to go. That caused organizers to can the event.
This was a rare outcome. Previously, the camp has only been canceled because of a typhoon.
JPC has its headquarters in the Police Public Relations Branch (PPRB) and branches in the city’s 20 police districts.
A veteran leader of the JPC surnamed Chow said some leaders pulled out due to safety concerns after seeing recent clashes between police and the public, while some leaders expressed anger at the force’s controversial handling of protesters, Apple Daily reported.
Some students also refused to go due to their political stance. Others expressed worry that if they went to the camp, they would be mocked by their peers or subject to online bullying if any photos were taken with government officials or police leaders.
City chief executive Carrie Lam, plus chief secretary Matthew Cheung and police chief Stephen Lo were listed as guests due to officiate at the camp.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of student members plan to give up their membership.
Cancelation of the event showed how society had torn apart, with youths opposed to the government and law enforcers, Chow said.
A recent poll by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute found that public satisfaction in the police had dropped to 39.4 – a record low since polls started seven years ago.
Some 58% of people felt that police had used excessive force during recent conflicts with protesters, while 77% supported the setting up of an independent investigative committee to look into whether police had abused their power.
Meanwhile, a lawmaker representing the medical sector has spoken about fear among injured civilians and medical staff who treat them of being arrested, a trend he called “white terror”.
Dr Pierre Chan, who is a qualified medical practitioner, said people injured during the clashes with police were reluctant to go to the hospital for treatment.
Chan cited a case of a Yuen Long resident who was injured by suspected triad gangsters on July 21 who he said chose not to seek treatment at a hospital.
But ‘white terror’ also applied to medical personnel going to protest sites to carry out humanitarian work, as they were also at risk of being arrested and charged.
A female volunteer doing first-aid was arrested for alleged rioting during a police clearance operation in July, he said.
‘Youths beaten up’
Meanwhile, a rumor circulating on social media claims that around 30 youngsters who have been arrested – aged from 16 to 18 – all suffered bone fractures and were suspected to have been beaten up by the police. All had been sent to North District Hospital for treatment.
News website HK01.com reported that nine people arrested in Causeway Bay during clashes with police last Sunday ended up in orthopedic and traumatology wards. They suffered head injuries, or bone fractures in their hands and legs.
These people complained that during the 48 hours in detention, they were only meet a lawyer once.
A human rights group also complained about obstacles the police made when volunteer lawyers wanted to meet the arrested protesters.
A number of protesters were taken to Sun Uk Ling Holding Center in Man Kam To, a border area near Shenzhen. When the lawyers asked to meet the protesters, they were told to stay outside the center for a few hours despite more than a dozen calls to the commander on-duty at the center.
The lawyers slammed the police for blocking the protesters’ right to get advice before they took statements and warned that these actions had recently become quite serious.