Civil rights groups have urged the police force to apologise for the “nuisance” caused by the strict security measures implemented for the visiting Chinese state leader Zhang Dejiang last week.

The groups said that the anti-terrorism-level security standards meant that Zhang was unable to hear the voices of Hongkongers. They called upon the police to review their procedures, saying that the measures seriously affected people’s daily lives and even hindered their rights.

hong kong police
Photo: Todd Darling.

Some 8,000 police officers were mobilised during the official visit and some 200 water barricades were set up. Roads were blocked at places where Zhang visited and a nearby construction site halted all work. Glue was applied on pavements bricks to prevent them from being picked up and thrown whilst officers set up tents on Lion Rock to prevent protest banners from being hung.

Civil Human Rights Front convener Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit stated that the security measures contrasted with those seen during the inauguration ceremony of Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen last week.

“When Zhang Dejiang came to Hong Kong, the demonstration area was established at a place where the Convention and Exhibition Centre could not be seen – we can see how scared this regime was,” Shum said.

“But when Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in… charges of Sunflower Movement activists were dropped to show respect for the right of civil disobedience. It showed that a democratic government respects people’s voices.”

police freedom protest
Groups called police to stop suppressing freedom. Photo: League of Social Democrats.

The Civil Front said that the Independent Police Complaints Council should investigate the incident, as it did after Chinese state leader Li Keqiang visited Hong Kong in 2012.

Abuse of power

The Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor’s project officer Claudia Yip Fun-yau said that the police and the Security Bureau abused their powers by refusing to reveal the legal reference behind the implementation of security zones around the city.

She said the measures were worse than the those rolled out in 2005 for the World Trade Organisation conference, where the authorities explained them to the Legislative Council.

“In short we say the police and Security Bureau’s attitude in preparing the ‘security measures’ are very dangerous, as it is a blatant disregard to the rule of law, making their power limitless and with no accountability,” she said.

Oscar Lai held by police
Oscar Lai held by police. Photo: Oscar Lai via Facebook.

‘Public nuisance’ 

Demosistō party members were arrested for obstructing police officers and causing a nuisance in public places, after they attempted to block Zhang’s car at the Eastern Harbour Tunnel.

Its chairman Nathan Law Kwun-chung said that the police house search actions after the arrests were unrelated to their alleged crime. He questioned whether the action was intended to pressure their families.

The League of Social Democrats (LSD), which organised several protests during Zhang’s visit, said that they were blocked from leaving a protest zone after a march. They said that police officers stopped their members from going to the protest area, searched them and forcibly damaged their protest props.

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Both the Civil Front and the LSD said they may apply for a judicial review to challenge the arrangement and the legitimacy of the police action. The Front will hold a protest at the police headquarters in Wan Chai on Wednesday afternoon.

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.