ARTICLE 19 calls for the Hong Kong authorities to curb excessive police force and uphold protesters’ rights to free expression during the current pro-democracy protests.
Police say up to 40 people have been arrested, and a similar number have been taken to hospital following an escalation of the protests, which started two months ago in response to the government’s broken promise for democratic elections by 2017.
According to reports, the clashes have been the most violent since the movement began, with police using batons and pepper spray against protestors.
Thomas Hughes Executive Director of ARTICLE 19 said:
“We are alarmed at the increasingly heavy-handed response to what has been a lawful, pro-democracy protest. The authorities’ role is to facilitate peaceful protest, not to intimidate those who have every right to exercise their views.
“We are deeply concerned about the disproportionate reaction such as reports that the pepper spray being used is stronger than usual, leaving people vomiting and temporarily blind, and also that a police officer was seen removing their ID during the protests, which if true, is a clear sign that they do not want to be scrutinised for their actions. Such tactics are clearly intended to intimidate protestors and stop them exercising their right to free speech.
“The Hong Kong authorities must uphold their obligations under international human rights law, respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and ensure the police do not use excessive force, but exercise restraint and remain within the law.”