A boy and a girl, both 13, were arrested on Saturday for different charges. The boy, identified by his last name Kong, was arrested for possession of a laser pen and spray paint. The girl was arrested along with other protesters in Tuen Mun for burning the Chinese flag. The police pepper-sprayed a 73-year-old man locally known as Uncle Chan for trying to negotiate with the police to release the arrested children.
The protest at Tuen Mun took a violent turn when the police cracked down on demonstrators for burning a Chinese flag. Among the protesters was the 13-year-old girl who was arrested. Pro-China groups were tearing down Lennon Walls, which have played a key role during the anti-extradition bill protests. In retaliation, the pro-democracy demonstrators occupied Tuen Mun. The demonstration soon turned violent after the protesters chose to burn the Chinese flag.
13-year-old Kong was apprehended by the police at Tseung Kwan O. Kong and was arrested for “possession of offensive weapons.” The “offensive weapon” in Kong’s possession was a laser pen and spray paint. The convenor of the Progressive Lawyers Group, Billy Li on-yin, pointed out that neither of the items in Kong’s possession was a weapon or was being used as a weapon. Meanwhile, a 19-year-old was arrested at the same location for illegal assembly.
Uncle Chan is locally known for being a part of the “Protect the Children” or “Guarding the Children” group. The 73-year-old man went on a hunger strike to stop the police from targeting young protesters with violence and arrests. However, Uncle Chan ended up being the one targeted by authorities.
According to Chan, the police have been trying to arrest him. Without finding a reason to arrest him, the police pepper-sprayed the senior citizen. A video showed a member of the group surrounded, assaulted, and arrested by the police in an alley. It was suspected that the arrested member was Chan. South China Morning Post clarified that Chan had not been arrested but had been pepper-sprayed.
The arrest of the two teenagers this weekend was not the first. Throughout the pro-democracy protests, 30 teens between the ages of 13 and 15 have been arrested and taken to juvenile court. Some of the teens were removed from the custody of their parents and faced law enforced curfews. Both teens arrested on Saturday have been released on bail.
Protest group Demosisto tweeted an image of police surrounding a child. The group claims that the police have arrested a 10-year-old child. This claim is unconfirmed, but if true, that would make the child the youngest person to be arrested during the pro-democracy protests.
Article originally appeared in International Business Times on 23 September 2019.