Thousands of medical staff rallied on Saturday evening to raise their concerns about alleged police brutality during recent protests in Hong Kong.
Between 6pm and 9pm, people held a sit-in protest titled “Medical staff rally against police brutality” at Charter Garden in Central. The organizer said a total of 10,000 people joined the rally, while the police said there were 2,300 people at the busiest time.
Michael Felix Lau Hoi-man, who organized the rally, which had official approval to be held, said police had entered local hospitals many times during their operations, undermining the rights and privacy of patients and threatening the personal safety of medical staff and patients.
Lam complained that senior management of the Hospital Authority had allowed the police to spread their “white terror” in hospitals and undermine the professionalism of the city’s medical sector. He added that it was appalling that a policeman entered a delivery room on October 7 to monitor a pregnant woman who had been arrested.
Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association’s president Arisina Ma Chung-yee, who attended the rally, complained that the police had intentionally attacked many medical staff and voluntary first-aiders with pepper spray and tear gas many times at protest sites. Ma described the police as “war criminals.”
A nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, said she was scolded by a police officer because she wore a black mask and he complained that she did not give him a chair. Another nurse, who had joined some protests, said police had refused to allow injured protesters to receive medical treatment or let them be send to hospitals.
Joseph Lee Kok-long, a lawmaker representing the Health Services functional constituency, said the abuse of police power had obstructed front-line medical staff from doing their jobs. Lee said a lot of injured protesters now avoided going to hospitals as they were worried they would be detained by the police who were there.
A masked man said on the stage that he had previously been shot by a rubber bullet or bean-bag round while he was passing a protest in Mong Kok. He said he suffered a bone fracture in his finger, but went to see an underground doctor suggested by some first aiders to avoid getting into trouble.
A young man named Kenneth said he was arrested at a protest in Amoy Garden. He said he was pushed down to the ground and had four police officers on his back and felt like he was being suffocated. He said he was not allowed to go to hospital when he was in the police station.
He was called “cockroach” by the police and released 21 hours later. He said it took two weeks to cure the infection in his chest, which he alleged was caused by pepper spray, and now has permanent scarring.
He suspected the police leaked his personal information to others as he and his family received threatening phone calls from people in Hong Kong and Guangdong two days later. He said the police did not treat him as a human being, but added that the protesters should not use violence.
According to a survey by voluntary medical staff, 24% of their patients suffered from psychological problems, while 76% were general patients. Of all their patients, 22% had bone fractures, 22% needed physiotherapy, while 2% had been hit by rubber bullets or bean-bag rounds.
The rally was held after medical staff from the Eastern Hospital, Queen Mary, Caritas, Prince of Wales, Princess Margaret, Northern District and Tuen Mun hospitals held protests in their buildings on October 21. They complained that the police had used excessive use.
The Hong Kong government had not yet responded to the criticism of the medical staff.
Commenting on the incident when a male officer entered a delivery room on October 7, the police said in a statement on October 9 that it had standard procedures for handling arrested persons and respected privacy and endeavored to ensure that any investigation or operation in a hospital would not affect its operations and services for patients.
On Saturday afternoon, Joseph Ha Chi-shing, the Auxiliary Bishop of Hong Kong, said in a speech in a 300-people prayer meeting at Charter Garden that protesters and police should stop calling each other “cockroaches” and “dogs.” He said setting up an independent commission of inquiry would help both sides reconcile and return to calm and peace. Ha said he hoped the public would focus on the District Council election on November 24, instead of street protests.
At 7pm on Saturday, dozens of masked people occupied the junction of Castle Peak Road and Tai Tong Road and held a sit-in protest titled “Liberate Yuen Long.” They chanted “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times!”
Half an hour later, police dispersed the crowd. They intercepted a young person but then released him. At 9:30pm, two men with different political views had a fight near Fuk Hong Road, while some black-shirted people obstructed Castle Peak Road with debris.
At the same time, police checked the ID cards of a dozen of people, including some members of the volunteer group Protect the Children, who were on the roadside.
Several riot police rushed to subdue a blue-shirted young man at the junction of Tai Tong Road and Fau Tsoi Street. The man was seen smoking at a pedestrian refuge, but police suspected he had a gun, RTHK reported. When he was subdued on the ground, a riot control policeman hit him with his knee.
Street quarrels continued in Yuen Long late into the evening. At midnight, after most of the protesters had gone home, police fired some tear gas canisters to clear the streets.
At 3pm on Sunday, thousands of people wearing masks and black shirts rallied at Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui, urging the government to disband the police force. Police intercepted many young people and took some of them away. Shortly after 3pm, police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd and arrested some people. Stand-offs continued into the evening.
At 4pm, seven hundred people, including their children, gathered at Kwun Tong Promenade to mourn the death of 20 people, who committed suicide or were allegedly killed during the extradition saga. They made 100 paper cranes. The gathering remained peaceful and was not dispersed by police.
Protesters are planning to hold a large-scale protest on November 2.