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2019 年 7 月 25 日
1. More than a hundred men, dressed in white and armed with clubs and canes, stormed the Yuen Long MTR Station and its vicinity overnight on 21 July. The assailants indiscriminately attacked unarmed passengers and passersby. At least 45 people were injured, including journalists, a lawmaker and a pregnant woman. Many of the injured sustained serious head injuries and their bodies were covered in wounds, bruises and cane marks.
2. During the violent attacks, which lasted intermittently for nearly two hours, there was zero Police presence. Shown on footage, two Police officers who reportedly arrived at the station minutes after the first 999 emergency call was made, left the scene without taking any action.
3. When riot Police surrounded the nearby village where the white shirted individuals had gathered after the attacks, they again took no action even though the officers were seen steps away from some of the white shirted individuals as they waved and pointed their clubs at the reporters nearby. Further, the white shirted individuals were seen leaving the village under the watch of the Police and no arrest was made that night.
4. A Yuen Long District Councillor later revealed that he had contacted the Police on the morning of 21 July about the threat of attacks in Yuen Long and that the Police had assured him that they already had “a plan” in place to handle the situation.
5. Expecting more violence in the area, many shops in Yuen Long closed early on the day following the attacks out of safety concerns. After much public criticism, the Police finally decided to take action and had arrested 11 suspects as of 23 July.
6. The Progressive Lawyers Group (the “PLG”) strongly condemns the Police in failing to take timely and appropriate action to prevent and respond to the mob attacks. While gang violence is abhorrent and has no place in our society, the flagrant inaction of the Police is equally repugnant and is arguably far more damaging to Hong Kong’s rule of law. With the Police seen alarmingly reluctant to protect Hong Kong citizens and keep this city safe, the incident has sent shock waves across the business and international communities, leaving one wondering if Hong Kong can still be seen as an international financial centre.
7. The Police inaction also raises serious concerns of their selective law enforcement, if one contrasts what happened in Yuen Long against the treatment of unarmed and peaceful anti-extradition bill protesters on 12 June and the evening before, when young people were subject to body searches by Police officers and were rounded up to stand against the walls at the Admiralty MTR Station.
8. Furthermore, the Police Commissioner Stephen Lo characterized the 21 July mob attacks merely as a “violent attack incident” while having no qualms in referring to the clashes between protesters and the Police at the Government headquarters on 12 June as a “riot”.
9. These differences in Police action and attitude contribute to a growing perception among the general public that the Hong Kong Police prioritizes the interests of those in power over the safety and well-being of the people they are tasked to serve.
10. In light of the foregoing, the PLG demands that:
10.1 the Police bring all the Yuen Long assailants to justice without delay;
10.2 the inaction of the Police be investigated on a systemic level by an independent commission of inquiry, along with other allegations of misconduct and excessive use of force against civilians during various demonstrations in these past weeks; and
10.3 any misconduct/misfeasance of Police officer(s) for inter alia failing to discharge his/her duties to protect members of the public in relation to the Yuen Long mob attacks be investigated and that responsible individual(s) be held accountable via disciplinary and/or criminal proceedings as appropriate.
11. The PLG is aware of the suggestions on social media for civilians to organize various groups, from neighbourhood watches to vigilante groups, to patrol the streets in New Territories towns and even to punish the assailants. The PLG appeals to the general public not to take the law into their own hands. Any such acts of street justice are likely to put those involved and others in harm’s way and expose themselves to criminal liability. We believe efforts should be focused on pressuring the Police and the Government instead.
12. The PLG continues to call on the Hong Kong Government to fully withdraw the extradition bill. In the face of lawless gang violence, we are more committed than ever to safeguarding Hong Kong’s freedom of expression and right of assembly. We shall never compromise our core values because of the attempt to rule by fear.
The Progressive Lawyers Group
25 July 2019
(PDF version: http://bit.ly/2Yltj2o)