October 5, 2019
Police Brutality News

EU and Britain urge restraint and de-escalation after Hong …

EU and Britain urge restraint and de-escalation after Hong …

The European Union and Britain urged restraint from authorities in Hong Kong on Tuesday after a police officer shot a protester in the city with a live round.

“Whilst there is no excuse for violence, the use of live ammunition is disproportionate, and only risks inflaming the situation,” Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement.

Police said the shooting occurred at around 4pm local time (4am US Eastern time) in Tsuen Wan, amid demonstrations held to coincide with celebrations in Beijing marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Video footage of the incident showed the protester, an 18-year-old man, attempting to strike the police officer with a stick, before being shot in the chest and collapsing to the ground. He underwent lung surgery and was in a non-life threatening condition, according to a source.

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A protester runs after setting a government office building on fire in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Demonstrations spread across the city as Beijing celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Photo: AP

A Hong Kong police force spokeswoman said in a video posted to the force’s Facebook page that the officer had feared for his safety and had acted to “save his own life and his colleagues’ lives”.

Calling on both anti-government protesters and Hong Kong authorities to de-escalate the conflict, Raab said the incident “underlines the need for a constructive dialogue to address the legitimate concerns of the people of Hong Kong”.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday after the shooting, EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said the bloc “continues to stress that that dialogue, de-escalation and restraint are the only way forward”.

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“More than three months since the protests began, the right to assembly and the right to protest peacefully must continue to be upheld in line with the [Hong Kong] Basic Law and international commitments,” Kocijancic said.

Tuesday’s incident, which occurred during a day of demonstrations billed by protesters as an act of “national mourning”, cast a shadow over mainland celebrations of the anniversary of China’s founding in 1949.

Hong Kong’s embattled leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, faced criticism from pan-democratic lawmakers in Hong Kong for attending the Beijing festivities, which featured a military parade with thousands of troops and a flaunting of China’s latest advanced weaponry.

In Tiananmen Square, President Xi Jinping said in a speech that no force could “shake the status of our great motherland”.

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Lam’s appearance at the parade, which was also attended by several Hong Kong police officers, was “tantamount to authorising police to administer Hong Kong”, two dozen Hong Kong legislators said in a joint statement.

“The members of the democratic camp urge Lam to stop pretending to be communicating [with the public, and to stop] relying on police violence,” the statement said. “She must face the problems and respond to protesters’ five demands.”

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A member of the media receives medical aid after being hit in the face with a projectile fired by police during clashes with protesters on Sunday. Photo: AFP

Last week, Lam met with more than 130 Hongkongers in a town hall-style event, at which she came under fire over her handling of unrest in the city, including her ongoing refusal to approve an independent inquiry into allegations of police brutality.

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Lam offered few new commitments at the event, but vowed that detained protesters would no longer be sent to the San Uk Ling detention centre, where those held in custody have allegedly been maltreated.

Speaking on Tuesday, the EU’s Kocijancic said that while “initial positive steps to engage members of the public and various sectors of society in dialogue have been taken, further efforts are needed to restore trust”.

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Published at Tue, 01 Oct 2019 16:47:00 +0000

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