Police chief defends restrained approach to HK anti-extradition protesters’ siege of HQ

25-Jun-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s police chief has said the force’s restrained approach to anti-extradition protesters’ 15-hour siege of the force’s headquarters was for the good of the public and his staff.

For hours throughout Friday and into Saturday, officers were reduced to standing silently behind glass doors and windows as protesters threw eggs at their Wan Chai headquarters, vandalised the building’s walls, blocked the exits and flashed laser beams at them.

In an internal memo issued to the force on Saturday, Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung said decisions during the operation were “made with public interest and officers’ well-being in mind”.

“We understand that officers might be worried or suffer from tremendous stress both physically and mentally,” the memo read.

“Moreover, officers might be required to work prolonged hours and need to face the threats of violent confrontation and provocation.”

Lo also thanked all frontline officers for their “tenacity, devotion, loyalty and professionalism” during the process.

“I also feel immensely proud of officers’ selfless contributions and endurance in this operation,” he said.

The force has faced a public backlash after firing tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbag rounds into crowds surrounding the legislature on June 12, culminating in a massive march four days later that organisers said drew nearly 2 million protesters against the extradition bill.

This was despite Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor earlier suspending the divisive proposal, which, if passed, would allow the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions with which the city has no extradition deal.

This includes mainland China, where critics say there is no guarantee of fair trials.

The Post earlier reported that the police planned to stick to their restrained approach to the protesters.

While the more muted and controlled tactic was praised for successfully avoiding clashes, some observers and officers raised concerns over morale in the force, pointing out that laws had been broken with impunity while officers stood by watching.



Category: Hong Kong

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