The police have dropped the case against four environmentalists who were arrested days after the Mong Kok unrest in February on suspicion of possessing offensive weapons with intent. The environmentalists were told there was no evidence for criminal prosecution after six months.

The police confiscated items such as knives, metal rods, wooden batons, water pipes, 24 pairs of work gloves, an air gun, liquid and crystallised chemicals, thinners, pepper solutions and fertilisers. The police said they would not rule out links to the violent clashes on February 9. But green advocates said it was a warehouse for recycling discarded materials.

“I think everyone can think what the possible uses could be,” police superintendent Chow Kwong-chung told reporters on February 11.

The confiscated articles.
The confiscated articles.

However, an environmental protection group “Oh Yes It’s Free” – which aims to categorise waste and recycle it – said that those arrested were innocent and the confiscated articles were discarded items they had received from the public for recycling.

The group said in a statement at the time that the arrest was a “ridiculous farce.”

A group of environmentalists protested the arrest by making soap in front of the police station where they were detained using similar materials.

Hand-made soap in front of Kwai Chung police station.
Hand-made soap in front of Kwai Chung police station.

‘No apology’

The environmentalists said that the police did not apologise to them after dropping the case.

“Lunar New Year was supposed to be a happy time, but a good woman who makes garbage enzymes and soaps was unreasonably arrested by the police inside my flat,” Ms Ching, one of the four, wrote in a statement. “For the past few months, I couldn’t sleep or eat well, being afraid that I may be arrested after midnight.”

“I have to constantly report to the police, until half a year later, there was no apology, simply a notification,” she added. “I trusted the judicial system, but such ridiculous arrests have happened, how can I [trust that I can] ask for help from the police in the future?”

Ryan Tong, another one of the four, said in a statement that he was stunned by the arrest but not concerned about the prosecution.

“The police and those who conspired to create this case will bear serious consequences for the worry and psychological harm caused to my family and friends,” he said.

Another who was arrested, Miss Chan, told Apple Daily that she was not happy that the police’s statement at the time was misleading: “How can it be up to what people think [the possible uses are]? You can’t use imagination to find evidence.”

Chan said the four were still discussing whether to file complaints or ask for compensation.

Chow, the officer responsible for the arrest, has been promoted to a senior superintendent.

Chu Hon-keung, director of environmental activist group The Green Earth, which has been helping the four, told officer Chow “congratulations” sarcastically in a Facebook post.

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.