Hong Kong police say activists were taken away and handcuffed during a protest on Saturday for their own safety.

League of Social Democrats activists Avery Ng and Figo Chan claimed to have been assaulted by officers inside a police van after they were taken away. News outlet HK01 captured photos showing an officer pushing Ng against the inside of a police van and pulling his hair.

avery ng
Photo: HKFP/Karen Cheung.

The two activists were at a protest on Saturday morning when they attempted to demonstrate at a flag raising ceremony which visiting President Xi Jinping was set to attend. However, they said they were attacked by a pro-Beijing group in Wan Chai and their protest props were destroyed.

The police said they arrested three men for common assault, of which two were also arrested for criminal damage. The trio have been allowed bail and the police say they will not rule out further arrests. The case is now being handled by Hong Kong Island Crime Unit.

handover scuffle lsd
Photo: LSD.

“Other than 30 people participating in a public event, another batch of over 100 gathered at the scene. The scene was chaotic – other than arresting the three, officers repeatedly gave instructions and warnings and tried to separate the two groups of people, but the scene remained chaotic.”

The police said they took 33 people away from the scene “to protect the personal safety of those participating in public events, to recover social order as soon as possible, and to prevent the situation worsening.”

handover scuffle lsd
Joshua Wong in handcuffs (L) and Figo Chan’s injury (R). Photo: Demosisto/LSD.

“However, some people were emotional in police vans. To avoid harm being done to themselves and others, officers handcuffed two people temporarily, and brought them to the Wan Chai police station. After the relevant people calmed down, officers removed the handcuffs and allowed them to leave.”

Demosisto activist Joshua Wong was among those handcuffed when he was taken away.

See also: You’re all under arrest: How Hong Kong’s gov’t changed its policy on political protests

Activists Ng and Chan reported their cases of alleged assault to the police on Sunday. The police said its Complaints Against Police Office unit received the relevant complaints, and said they would be handled fairly in accordance with procedures.

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.