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Pro-Democracy Protesters Accuse Hong Kong Police of Allowing ‘Thugs’ to Attack Them

A pro-democracy protester attacked by thugs in Mongkok. He accused the police for keeping a blind eye to the attack act. Photo from inmediahk.net

A pro-democracy protester attacked by thugs in Mongkok. He accused police of turning a blind eye to the violence. Photo from inmediahk.net

Opponents of the Occupy Central movement harassed and attacked protesters on October 3, a week into the massive pro-democracy sit-in occupying the city's center demanding free and fair elections in Hong Kong. 

The pro-Beijing thugs, as some described them, accused the protesters of affecting their daily work and began tearing down protest banners and booths. When the protesters attempted to stop them, they were attacked themselves. Some of the people behind the violence were wearing blue ribbons, a sign of support debuted at a recent pro-government protest for police and their use of tear gas.

The thug was safeguarded to the police vehicle after attacking pro-democracy protesters. Photo taken from inmediahk.net

This man was safeguarded to the police vehicle after attacking pro-democracy protesters. Photo taken from inmediahk.net

The confrontation in Mongkok resulted in a number of pro-democracy protesters injured. Ling Nan narrated how the men looking for trouble moved into the area of the sit-in on citizen media site inmediahk.net:

下午三時左右,約百位中年漢於旺角彌敦道貌似散步,慢慢一團一團包圍不同位置的佔領人士,並高聲叫囂:「警察你地隻眼開隻眼閉啦,俾我地打柒佢﹗」,中年漢邊撕走路上爭取普選的橫額,邊指罵帳幕及物資站旁義工,他們明反佔中立場,逐漸步向彌敦道阿皆老街佔領區要塞推進,其間對佔領區人士拳打腳踢。

[…] 有途人怕兩位青年遇險,嘗試走前隔開該名反佔中人士,卻被刀片指向面孔:「咩啊﹗夠贍你同我去天安門丫,屌你老母﹗」,該名「和事佬」見反佔中人士情緒激動,先自行離開現場,但被追隨約一個街口,不停被重複指罵:「「咩啊﹗夠贍你同我去天安門丫」,引來大群反佔中人士包圍叫囂。

About 3 p.m., around 100 middle-aged men roamed around in Nathan Road and slowly surrounded the sit-in protesters in various spots. Then they shouted: “Police, just close one eye and let us beat them up!” The middle-aged men tore away the banner and cursed the volunteer duty team who was guarding the resources under the booths. They said they were against Occupy and marched towards the sit-in area at the crossing of Nathan Road and Argyle Street. On their way, they attacked the protesters at the sit-in.

[…] A passerby tried to stop an anti-Occupy Central man from hurting two young people. The thug pointed at him in the face with a blade, saying, “You have the guts? Come with me to Tiananmen, mother f**ker!” The passerby tried to walk away, but the guy chased after him, yelling, “You have the guts? Come with me to Tiananmen, mother f**ker!” and another anti-Occupy Central mob surrounded him.

A high school student in school uniform was attacked by thugs in Mongkok. Photo uploaded by facebook user Dereck Eu.

A high school student in school uniform was attacked by thugs in Mongkok. Photo uploaded by facebook user Dereck Eu.

A social worker, Ms Lam, who is a volunteer duty team member in Mongkok, accused the police of turning a blind eye to the attack:

六點至七點左右,反佔中人士的確愈來愈多。在場的佔中人士感受到威協愈來愈嚴重。林小姐表示,那些反佔中人士都目露凶光,指住示威者罵,丟水樽等。[…]後來情況幾乎失控,當時警察極少,完全無法控場,在場義工有借出大聲公給警察做協調。與警方協調後,有十多名示威者由警方開路離開。但是後來,有個警員突然走進來,向示威者發出警告:示威者的聚集已經造成了危險,如不離開將會被捕。在場示威者感到不憤,為什麼受害者成了危險,包圍和挑起矛盾的反佔人士卻不被警告。結果更令到大部分示威者十分憤怒,大家認為警方不公,都認為應該留下來。

Since 6 or 7 p.m., more and more anti-Occupy Central thugs arrived. The sit-in protesters felt threatened. Ms Lam said they looked fierce and kept cursing the protesters, throwing water bottles at them. […] The situation was out of control. There were very few police officers and the volunteers had to lend their loud speaker to the police to deal with the situation. About 10 protesters decided to leave and the police led the way. But later a police officer came to the sit-in site and warned the protesters that the assembly had put others in danger, and if they did not leave they would be arrested. The remaining protesters were very angry. They were the victims of a violent attack and the police now accused them of being dangerous. They did not even give a warning to the anti-Occupy Central thugs who had stirred up the conflict. The protesters then refused to leave because of the injustice of the police. They decided to stay behind.

Because the police were not taking action, thousands of pro-democracy protesters rushed to Mongkok to confront the attackers. Some discovered that police officers had secretly released one of the men who instigated the violence and safeguarded him into a taxi. Outraged, they surrounded the Mongkok police station demanding arrests.

Thugs with face masks appeared in Causeway Bay sit-in site at around 6pm.  Photo taken by Cheung Ka Man.

Thugs with face masks appeared in Causeway Bay sit-in site at around 6 p.m. Photo taken by Cheung Ka Man.

A similar situation happened in Causeway Bay, but on a smaller scale. Chu Hoidick described the scene for inmediahk.net:

傍晚六點多,一班戴口罩的流氓殺入SOGO對出的怡和街及渣甸街,毆打參與佔中市民及拆走鐵馬陣。
我們當時最差的評估是,旺角的情況將在銅鑼灣重複,因此我們在大台旁邊設立第二防線,預備如果被暴徒圍困時就返回第二防線留守。
到七點多,來聲援的市民愈來愈多,流氓開始撤退,但另一邊廂,有隊警察突然從地鐵站口冒出來,形勢大逆轉,我們面對的對手由流氓變成警察。
對於警察清場,我和戰友們的立場很清楚,就是在銅鑼灣留守到底,於是我和另一位同學,就以揚聲器呼籲市民留守。
到晚上八點多,仍然有零星三兩人在叫罵和掛藍絲帶,但局面大致穩定下來。其時我們也聽到旺角示威者重奪佔領區,大家士氣大振,我們一定可以堅守下去。

Around 6 p.m., a group of thugs with face masks walked into Yee Wo Street and Jardin Street outside SOGO [a landmark department store]. They attacked the sit-in protesters and tore down the blockade.
We anticipated that what happened in Mongkok would repeat in Causeway Bay, so we had built another blockade near the stage to safeguard the protesters if the thugs surrounded us.
More and more citizens came to protect us after 7 p.m. and the thugs began to retreat. A group of police officers exited the subway and we found ourselves confronting police rather than thugs.
Our position was clear: We would continue to stay and fight against police officers’ attempts to disperse us. A student and I took turns and urged citizens to stay at the sit-in site with loudspeaker.
By 8 p.m., only a few thugs with blue ribbon [which supports police] had stayed behind cursing the protesters. The situation had calmed down. We heard that sit-in protesters in Mongkok had reclaimed their site. We regained our spirit and would carry on with our sit-in.

Female protesters were targets of the physical and verbal harassment, but police ignored their complaints and refused to take action. A group of 30 NGOs for women has issued a joint statement condemning the sexual violence:

We have already received numerous calls for help from citizens who have been targets of verbal sexual harassment, including, “if you come out to demonstrate, you should expect to begroped!” and “you have big boobs so why not let us fondle them!” and so on.There were also many women who were directly indecently assaulted, and there were also rumors that the anti-occupy movement thugs have organized themselves into a “groping troop”. This type of sexual assault and indecent assault obviously stem from gender inequality, which treats women as inferior. We are outraged by such shameless behavior! Collectively, we:

1. Strongly condemn the use of sexual violence against women by the anti-occupy movement thugs.

2. Urge those assaulted not to remain silent, and need not be beaten down by sexual violence. All protesters should stand up and defend the bodily rights and autonomy of everywoman.

3. Urge that the police must immediately investigate and maintain law and order, they must prevent the anti-occupy movement camp from committing crimes in an organized manner; they must arrest suspects on the spot.

In the evening, the city's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying released a video urging protesters to leave the sit-in and cooperate with police, but he failed to condemn the violence of the thugs.

A day before, the Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the key organizations behind the pro-democracy movement, had accepted the offer of talks with the government's Chief Secretary Carrie Lam. Given the many eyewitnesses, including those injured, reporting that police did nothing to stop the attackers but instead threatened to arrest the sit-in participants, the federation has canceled the dialogue.

Follow our in-depth coverage: Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution

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