Police supporters have staged a protest asking Hong Kong’s leader to pardon seven police officers who were sentenced to two years in jail on Friday for assaulting activist Ken Tsang during the pro-democracy Occupy protests in 2014.

They said the jail time was too long and the conviction was unjust, as the officers were only using “methods beyond procedure to control rioters.”

Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Around 40 protesters gathered outside Wan Chai station, hours after the seven officers were sent to jail on Friday. They called Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen a “dog,” which is an insult in Chinese.

They said Yuen failed in his duty to prosecute pro-independence advocates and the organisers behind the Occupy protests.

Fu Chun-Chung (C). Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

“We support the police’s enforcement action against Occupy rioters and organisers,” said Fu Chun-Chung of Defend Hong Kong Campaign, the pro-Beijing group behind Friday’s rally.

“Give us back the rule of law,” he said. “The judiciary is not doing its job and is slow to make prosecutions.”

Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Police supporters argued that the organisers behind the Occupy protests should be held responsible instead.

They made placards asking Yuen to prosecute media mogul and Next Media founder Jimmy Lai and other pro-democracy figures.

Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

The pro-police camp has long alleged that Lai funded the Occupy movement, though there is no evidence for the claim.

Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Ray Chan Chi-chuen ran a street booth across from the protesters collecting signatures for a citizen platform to nominate lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung for chief executive. A helper told HKFP that they arrived an hour before the pro-police group turned up.

Before the march began, police supporters shouted at Chan and his team. They also hurled insults through loudspeakers at the lawmaker based on his sexual orientation.

Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng

Chan told HKFP that he was not troubled by the insults. “It is rare that people do this to me. No matter how open-minded a society is, there will always be a minority [that opposes LGBT rights],” he said.

“In fact, the louder they shout, the more support we get. When they were shouting just now, more people came up and signed our petition.”

Civil nomination booth in Wanchai. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Chan said Friday’s sentencing could be seen as doing justice – albeit belated – to Ken Tsang. “We waited for a long time, but at least the court decision serves as consolation and ensures public confidence in the judiciary, our last line of defence.”

“The police owe an apology to the public and to Tsang,” he said. “Internally, the police chief may comfort officers, but to the public, he must distinguish between right and wrong.”

Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng

A protester approached Chan and his volunteers and shouted at them. Police intervened and asked the protester to return to her group.

Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

After Fu read out a statement, the group marched to the Police Headquarters in Wan Chai to present a thank you letter to the force.

They then proceeded to the Department of Justice office in Central and submitted a petition letter to a representative.

Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Another pro-police rally is scheduled for Saturday. It will begin at 3pm at Chater Garden in Central and finish at the Government Headquarters.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.