The police have arrested three people at a flat in an industrial building in Kwai Chung where they found knives, pepper solutions and an air gun, and are looking at a possible link to the Mong Kok unrest. But green advocates have claimed it was a warehouse for recycling out of use materials.

A 34-year-old architectural draftsman, a 46-year-old jobless woman, and a 47-year-old woman who sold organic food remained detained as of Thursday midnight on suspicion of possessing offensive weapons with intent.

The confiscated articles.
The confiscated articles.

Officers found 18 knives, metal rods, wooden batons, water pipes, 24 pairs of work gloves, an air gun, a walkie-talkie, liquid and crystallised chemicals, thinners, pepper solutions, fertilisers, and also a PassionTeens magazine published by political group Civic Passion.

“I think everyone can think what the possible uses could be,” police superintendent Chow Kwong-chung told reporters. He said it cannot be ruled out that it was related to the violent clashes in Mong Kok on Monday night.

‘Ridiculous farce’

However, an environmental protection group “Oh Yes It’s Free” – which aims at categorising rubbish and recycling it – has claimed that those arrested were innocent and the confiscated articles were rubbish they had received from the public for recycling.

“We are a civil environmental protection group without support and [political] background,” the group said in a statement. “Now these temporarily stored materials were said to be ‘weapons’, we must stand up and stop this ridiculous farce.”

"Ending one rubbish bin for all rubbish" recycling.
“Ending one rubbish bin for all rubbish” recycling. Photo: Facebook.

Friends of those arrested and environmentalists appeared at the police station where the three arrested were detained to support them.

In 2013, the group was featured on a TVB programme about environmentalism.

YouTube video

A member of the group “Oh Yes It’s Free”, who gave her surname as Lau, told RTHK that one of those arrested has been producing hand made soaps, so it was normal for the police to find chemicals like sodium hydroxide, as it was necessary for making soaps.

She said it was a misunderstanding as none of those arrested had been to the Mong Kok protests on Monday night.

Lau added that the materials should not be called weapons, as some of them were gathered when environmentalists recycled out of use utensils when people moved homes. The materials were temporarily stored in the warehouse before being given to the next owner, she said.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.