Police have charged two men over a highly controversial attack on protesters and ordinary citizens at Yuen Long subway station last month.
The men, aged 48 and 54, are due to appear in Fanling Court on Friday when they will face charges of rioting. They were among 28 people arrested following a wild melee at the MTR station on July 21.
The charges follow a sit-in at the subway station in the New Territories by thousands of people on Wednesday night in protest at police inaction over the clashes a month ago, allegedly involving local gangsters ‘encouraged’ by a pro-China politician.
A large crowd of protesters dressed in black joined the sit-in at Yuen Long station at 8pm, a month after the “indiscriminate violent attacks” to protest about the police, who some suspect had colluded with triad gangs.
Late on Sunday July 21, a group of armed men dressed in white, who carried rattan sticks and steel poles, launched a brutal attack on pro-democracy protesters, passengers and reporters at the station, leaving nearly 50 people injured.
The police were heavily criticized for taking 39 minutes to reach the station despite frantic calls from citizens who were attacked and failing to arrest any of the armed assailants on spot, despite media filming the men in white wielding wooden sticks – while riot police stood aside.
It is not known what side of the political spectrum the two men who have been charged are on. Police arrested 28 people but most were accused of taking part in an unlawful assembly and no charges had been laid till Thursday afternoon.
The sit-it on Wednesday night took place at the MTR concourse. People covered their right eyes with a hand in response to a call for an “Eye for Hong Kong campaign” to show their solidarity with a female protester who was shot in the eye allegedly by a police officer firing bean-bag rounds during a clash in the city two weeks ago.
A man named John who joined the sit-in on Wednesday slammed the police for their “biased” handling of clashes, saying many Yuen Long residents recognized the men in white shirts because they were well-known. He said the people provided names for police to arrest them but the force had taken no action, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.
The sit-it was peaceful, but at around 10pm, some protesters outside the station were cleared away by police. The force repeatedly warned those on the streets to stop shining laser beams at them before the clearance operation.
Some protesters threw objects at the police but most of them retreated quickly before members of the riot squad advanced.
Chaos at station
As several teams of riot police blocked the exit connecting the station and a footbridge, around 100 protesters barricaded themselves inside the station. They blocked the exits with rubbish bins, trolleys, recycled bins and brought down the shutters. They also sprayed the floor with water, cleaning detergent and fire extinguishers to make it slippery for any incoming police.
The stand-off lasted around an hour and ended when riot police outside the station began to leave. Protesters also took the train back home.
The Yuen Long attack is one of the more notable events in three months of protests against controversial changes proposed to the extradition bill since June. Hong Kong residents have accused the police of injustice and claim they treated the gangsters in a preferential manner.
A month on, local reporters have kept asking police about the progress of the case and the prosecution status at the force’s daily media conference. But spokespeople continue to say they need better evidence in order for the cases to have a good chance of being prosecuted in the courts.
Leung denies writing letters
Meanwhile, former chief executive Leung Chun-yin has denied writing letters to British politicians and warning them to “tone down” comments on the protests in Hong Kong, or they could face ‘consequences’.
According to the Daily Mail, Leung, who is now a leading Chinese official, warned senior politicians who spoke out about the protests to stop spreading ‘false statements’ and to take a more ‘positive and respectful tone’.
Leung is now vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body.
The paper said the letter indicated that, if politicians agitated matters further, the Chinese government would elaborate further with regard to future “consequences”.
Leung said on his Facebook on Thursday that he reserved the right to take action against the Daily Mail and relevant politicians.