Tear gas fired in Sham Shui Po, HK after student’s arrest amid long-running political unrest

08-Aug-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The head of a Hong Kong university on Wednesday urged authorities to treat students fairly and respond to widespread public concern after its student leader was arrested a day earlier for carrying laser pointers.

The arrest of Baptist University’s student union president Keith Fong Chung-yin on Tuesday night drew more than 300 people to siege Sham Shui Po Police Station. They were later dispersed when tear gas was fired.

In a letter to students, staff and alumni, the university’s president Roland Chin Tai-hong noted that besides Fong, another student was arrested near the police station on the same night.

“We have spoken with Sham Shui Po police this morning and asked them to ensure our students are treated fairly,” Chin said.

 (Yahoo News Singapore)

(Yahoo News Singapore)

“We are also consulting legal experts and will continue to provide appropriate assistance to them.”

Chin added university staff also checked on other students who were among those besieging the police station when tear gas was fired and tried to persuade them to leave for safety reasons.

“The latest police actions have caused widespread public concern… I urge the government and law enforcement authorities to respond positively to these concerns,” Chin said.

The force earlier said Fong had been found carrying offensive weapons, namely 10 laser pointers.

Meanwhile, protesters are hitting back at what they view as an abuse of powers by the police by calling on people to bring laser pointers for a stargazing session in Tsim Sha Tsui on Wednesday night.

Messages circulating on social media platforms, including the encrypted LIHKG popular among the protesters, that university astronomy students and graduates had called for a gathering outside the Space Museum at 8pm.

One of the messages said residents would be taught how to stargaze with laser pointers. It added that Wednesday night was the seventh day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar a Chinese festival celebrating the annual meeting of a cowherd and weaver girl in mythology.

According to folklore, the love between the two was not allowed and they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver River, symbolising the Milky Way. They could only meet once a year on the seventh night of July on lunar calendar when a flock of magpies would form a bridge to reunite the lovers.

There was also a message on LIHKG calling on people to buy a laser pointer and surrender themselves to police.

Shortly after midnight, residents and protesters were still out on the street, after the siege of the police station. Some protesters were seen remonstrating with police, and officers tackled at least a dozen of them to the ground.

Fong, student union president at Baptist University, was arrested at the junction of Apliu Street and Kweilin Street, a few blocks from the police station.

Soon after his arrest he was sent to the nearby Caritas Medical Centre as he complained of feeling unwell.

Chief Inspector Chow Hok-yin from the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said officers approached Fong because he was acting suspiciously, but he ran away. Officers gave chase and caught him, and found 10 torch-like laser pointers, each 18cm (7 inches) long, in his plastic bag.

The pointers which a police source said were strong enough to burn paper are regularly seen being aimed at officers during clashes and stand-offs with protesters.

Asked why a laser pointer could be treated as an offensive weapon, Chow said: “If anyone uses such an object to attack a person, it could also be deemed an offensive weapon.

“In recent operations, you can also see people flashing such laser pointers at police officers. Some of us have felt unwell, while some were even injured.”

The student union first confirmed the arrest on social media in the evening and condemned police for, as the union saw it, abusing their power.

After visiting Fong in hospital, Chin said the student was in a good condition both physically and emotionally. Fong was waiting to see a doctor and had not given police a statement, Chin continued, adding that three lawyers were at the scene to help him.




Category: Taiwan

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