The Vice-Chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong has vowed to issue a statement condemning police brutality after four hours of talks with students and alumni on Thursday.
University head Rocky Tuan Shun-chi had a face-to-face chat with students behind doors for about two hours, after an open dialogue session with hundreds of students, alumni and staff in a lecture hall early in the evening.
Tuan told reporters the closed-door session had been “very effective” and he understood more through the sincere dialogue with students.
Tuan said he would issue a statement in one week to express his concern on current social unrest and his stand on police brutality.
The change in attitude of the masked students surprised people waiting outside the room when they shouted their appreciation for Tuan and clapped. Just a few hours earlier in the closed-door session, students had showed their anger and tears during an open dialogue session.
Tuan and his aides faced a hostile and emotional meeting with students at Sir Run Run Shaw Hall when he was repeatedly asked about the university’s support for students who have been arrested.
Some 32 students from the university have been arrested since mass protests started in the city in June.
Tuan was interrupted many times, with some people swearing at him and questioning whether he was fit to lead the school. At one point, a laser beam was shone in his face.
Others took issue with his criticism of students who had sprayed graffiti and vandalized the campus, accusing him of being quick to blame students but give a “free pass” to the police.
Tuan had said the damage to school facilities pained him, but he stressed that he treasures the students more than any inanimate object.
Some speakers who spoke out against the protesters were also treated to a chorus of boos, including a student from mainland China who told how some of her compatriots were allegedly harassed by local students.
One of the students told Tuan that she and other protesters were sexually abused by officers during detention, using her real name and not wearing a mask to shield her identity.
Sonia Ng wore a black facemask and wept while describing how she was treated by police while in detention.
“Do you know I’m not the only one who has been sexually assaulted… others have been through the same and even got tortured by more than one police officer regardless of their gender.
“Do you know we need to do whatever the officers ask us to do under detention and we can’t resist? Do you know the body search room in San Uk Ling is all dark?”
She then took off her mask, and challenged Tuan to demonstrate the same courage to condemn the police.
Ng had made her accusation previously on stage in a rally and at a press conference. However, as she covered her face with a mask. Kong Wing-cheung, the deputy superintendent of the police public relations branch, said at a press conference that the force did not accept any accusations against police officers from people “behind masks”.
Ng was arrested at Prince Edward MTR Station on August 31 and sent to Kwai Chung Police Station before being detained at San Uk Ling Holding Center.
This facility is located in a remote area on Man Kam Road in Sheung Shui, near the border with mainland China. The Holding Center has been the subject of numerous complaints, with claims that police have abused protesters and refused to grant them access to a lawyer or medical treatment.
Ng issued a statement on Friday morning to verify that the sexual abuse included a male police officer patting on her breast and two female officers looking at her private parts while she used an uncovered toilet in a cell and a group of male police chatted nearby – at Kwai Chung Police Station, not in San Uk Ling.
But she said the statement she made on Thursday night included remarks about other individuals who were sexually abused and tortured by officers in San Uk Ling but not prepared to say that publicly.
The open dialogue session ended with some distressed students breaking down in tears and repeatedly blocking Tuan from leaving the lecture hall, as they were angry that he had not given them a concrete undertaking to issue a formal condemnation of police brutality.
Tuan had said he would issue a statement next week, but refused to commit to condemning the police at that point.
Several students cried uncontrollably as they begged him to speak out on their behalf. One knelt on the floor, weeping.
Tuan returned and agreed to have a closed-door chat with students. He finally managed to mend the rifts in private and comfort the students.
Girl’s body found
Meanwhile, police confirmed that the body of a naked female was found in water near Kowloon’s Yau Tong on September 22. This was said to be a 15-year-old girl who had been reported as missing, Apple Daily reported.
There were posts on Telegram and LINHK, a local Reddit-like discussion board, about a missing girl surnamed Chan on September 24, saying she had gone missing on the afternoon of September 19 at Mei Foo MTR Station.
Chan, said to be a member of the school diving team, had attended a number of anti-extradition bill protests.
VTC Youth College confirmed that Chan was one of their students and had passed away.
Apple Daily followed up on the girl’s death, asking the police’s public relations bureau if the case was a suicide or if the girl had been arrested at a protest.
Police said inquiries were still going on – and they were awaiting the results from forensic toxicology tests to confirm the girl’s cause of death.
Rumors have circulated online that police have tortured and abused arrested protesters sometimes fatally, with claims there have been an increasing number of bodies found recently in waters adjacent to Hong Kong, plus a supposed rise in the number of people who have fallen from heights since the protests started in June.
But police have denied this and issued clarifications at press conferences or on Facebook, rebutting the rumors and calling on people not to believe claims that have no basis.