Arrests in Hong Kong raise fears of more violent protests
HONG KONG — A Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker expressed fears Thursday that the situation could worsen after police announced the arrests of more than a dozen people following protests earlier this week.
Legislative Council member Claudia Mo called on people to understand the frustration and anger of the mostly youthful protesters, even if they have technically broken the law.
“I am terribly worried that a massive kind of round-up of protesters could trigger very negative sentiment on the part of the young,” she told reporters. “Things could get worse.”
Police have announced the arrest of 12 people who tried to disrupt a ceremony Monday marking the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return from Britain to China in 1997. Another person was arrested for his alleged involvement in the storming of the legislature building that night.
The city’s legislature will not be able to meet for three months because of the extensive damage by the protesters, pro-democracy lawmaker Helena Wong said.
She said the fire prevention and electronic voting systems need to be repaired and restored. She also said that computer hard discs had been taken from the security control room, with the names, photos and titles of those who had building access.
A man surnamed Poon has been charged with assaulting police, criminal destruction, misconduct in public places and forced entry of the Legislative Council complex, police said Thursday. More arrests seem likely, given the extent of the damage.
Eleven men and a woman were arrested over the Monday morning protest. They face various charges including possession of offensive weapons, unlawful assembly, assaulting a police officer, obstructing a police officer and failing to carry an identity document. The brief statement did not provide further details.
Pro-democracy protesters rushed police barricades around the time of a morning flag-raising ceremony marking the 22nd anniversary of the former British colony’s handover to China. Police used shields, batons and pepper spray to drive them back.
That afternoon, while hundreds of thousands of people were participating in a peaceful march marking the anniversary, a few hundred protesters began trying to break into the locked legislative building by smashing thick glass walls and prying open metal security curtains.
They poured into the building that night. In shocking scenes Monday and early Tuesday, the protesters vented their anger at a government that hasn’t responded to their demands. They spray-painted slogans on the walls, stood on the desks in the legislature’s main chamber and climbed high to cover the city’s official emblem with black spray paint.