Hong Kong: Police should exercise restraint to avoid escalating violence
In response to police operations on Aug 11, where rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets were fired, Man-Kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong said:
“Hong Kong police have once again used tear gas and rubber bullets in a way that have fallen short of international standards. Firing at retreating protesters in confined areas where they had little time to leave goes against the purported objective of dispersing a crowd.”
According to media reports, one protester suffered from a ruptured eye in Tsim Sha Tsui after being shot by what appeared to be a bean bag projectile from the police. Police fired multiple rounds of tear gas and pepper ball projectiles were fired within a short range inside a train station in Kwai Fong and Taikoo against protesters, sometimes aiming at their heads and upper bodies.
Tear gas should not be used in confined spaces or where exits are blocked or restricted. Tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper ball projectiles can cause serious injury and is even potentially lethal. They should therefore never be fired directly at anyone and should not be fired at all when visibility is poor. When such weapons are deployed, it must be in strict compliance with the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality.
“The Hong Kong police have once again demonstrated how not to police a protest,” said Man-kei Tam. “Law enforcement officials must be able to carry out their duty to protect the public. However, violence directed at police does not give officers a green light to operate outside of international policing standards.”
“Any heavy-handed policing approach will only increase tension and provoke hostility, leading to the overall escalation of the situation.”
Amnesty International is calling on all governments to suspend transfers of less lethal “crowd control” equipment to Hong Kong until a full and independent investigation is carried out, and adequate safeguards are put in place.