Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp has compared the local police force to being “the servant of triads” after a night of chaos and bloodshed in the New Territories.

Hours after an anti-extradition march culminated in police-protester clashes on Hong Kong Island, a group of armed assailants battered residents, journalists and a lawmaker in Yuen Long. Forty-five people were injured with one man in critical condition, but – as of Monday morning – police have not made any arrests.

yuen long attacks
Photo: Lam Cheuk-ting.

In a joint statement, 24 pro-democracy lawmakers denounced the police as “colluding” with triads and “condoning” the assault.

“Last night, the 999 reporting hotline would not connect for a long time and the police station was closed. There were even police officers who pretended they didn’t see the actions of those in white shirts and red ribbons, and turned around to leave,” they said.

“The police, who are like the servants of triads, have completely lost the public’s trust, forcing people to defend themselves. The situation makes people wonder if [Chief Executive] Carrie Lam received instructions from the party to cause divisions among the public.”

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Democrats condemn ‘collusion’ between police and triads. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Democrats also referred to an alleged instance of Lam saying, at a closed-door meeting, that she “would not betray” the police force. Saying that Lam’s administration had broken down, the lawmakers called on Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo to resign and asked for an independent commission of inquiry into the events at Yuen Long.

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‘Violent radicals’

Meanwhile, the pro-Beijing camp focused on the protests on Hong Kong Island, which saw hundreds surrounding Beijing’s office in Hong Kong and defacing the national emblem on the building’s facade. On Sunday evening, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds in Sheung Wan.

At a press conference for the pro-Beijing camp, leader of the DAB party Starry Lee condemned the actions of “violent radicals” at the China Liaison Office, as well as the violent assault in Yuen Long.

pro-beijing lawmakers
Pro-Beijing camp responds to protests at the China Liaison Office and violent assault in Yuen Long. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Lee said that the protesters tried to break into the Liaison Office building and were espousing pro-independence beliefs. “Their actions seriously contravened China’s constitution and were an insult to the country and its people, turning their back on the Basic Law and One Country, Two Systems,” she said.

As for the situation in Yuen Long, Lee said it was “very serious” and resulted in injuries to the public and journalists. She said the pro-Beijing camp “seriously condemned” the incident as she called on police to enforce the law.

The defacement of the national emblem also drew condemnation from two former chief executives – CY Leung and Tung Chee-hwa. Leung posted on Facebook that the people responsible for throwing paint at the emblem are “scum” and “will be severely punished by the law, and be spurned by history.”

Tung said on Monday that he was “very saddened and angry” at the actions of the protesters. He said the national emblem was a symbol for the country and its people, and any act to deface it is an open challenge to national sovereignty and the authority of the central government.

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.