Chief Executive Carrie Lam has condemned protesters who attacked police as “rioters.”
More than ten police officers were injured amid scuffles between anti-extradition law protesters and police as officers in full riot gear entered New Town Plaza on Sunday night. Pro-Beijing politicians have condemned the violence, whilst democrats and civil rights group criticised the force for “kettling” protesters and blocking paths for them to disperse.
Lam and Secretary for Security John Lee appeared at the Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital in Tai Po on Monday afternoon to visit the injured police officers.
“I believe [the violent protesters] can be described as rioters,” Lam said.
She said Hongkongers can file a judicial review or use other peaceful means to challenge the government.
“But I am afraid that, again and again, after a peaceful and orderly protest had almost, or already ended, some people with ulterior motives conducted such violent protests, attacking frontline police and the spirit of the rule of law,” she said.
She said the police and the justice department will file prosecutions after they complete relevant investigations.
“I may not be able to fulfil everyone’s demands, but this is not a personal issue of mine. The government will propose practical and feasible responses after considering different factors,” she said.
John Lee said protesters threw umbrellas, bricks and metal bars at officers, and some “crazily beat up” police officers.
He claimed the protests were organised and planned, and warned that under section 17 of the Offences Against the Person Ordinance, anyone who maliciously wounds or causes any grievous bodily harm to any person could be sentenced to life in prison.
“People should not rationalise or glorify violence. When the violence gets worse, it will not be beneficial to society,” he said.
Before the Sha Tin protests, the Junior Police Officers’ Association issued a statement urging the management of the police force to ensure the safety of officers when exercising duties.
“Unless the management are confident that conditions – such as tactics and equipment – can ensure officers’ safety during operation, officers should not be sent on missions that can cause injuries, or to dangerous places,” it said. “If the situation does not improve, the Association will consult with lawyers to seek more effective ways to ensure the safety of officers.”
Meanwhile, responding to a Financial Times report that she had tendered her resignation to Beijing but it was declined, Lam said she still has the passion to serve Hong Kong people despite difficulties.
“I will continue to lead the governing team with a more tolerant and humble attitude, to listen to public opinion in order to complete the work within my term,” she said.
The chief executive’s office told RTHK that Lam had never offered to resign.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s office in Hong Kong said it has raised a stern representation to individual Western media outlets for publishing “fake information.”