More than 300 mid-level civil servants have criticised the handling of the recent anti-extradition law protests by the Hong Kong government and the police force.

The executive officers – a professional management rank existing in all government departments which run daily operations – issued a joint statement on Wednesday. Many posted their staff identity cards with their names and faces hidden, replaced with messages slamming the government.

Photo: Supplied.

Many of them said the five demands of anti-extradition bill protesters must be fulfilled. The demands include a complete withdrawal of the now-suspended  bill, a retraction of the “riot” characterisation of the June 12 protests, an independent investigation into police behaviour and an unconditional release of all arrested protesters. They also called for a disbanding of the legislature and implementation of universal suffrage.

The executive officers, who are meant to be politically neutral, said the government had failed to listen to public opinion since mass protests broke out in June. They said that the Yuen Long “terror attack” on July 21 – during which unknown men in white attacked passers-by – has caused fear in society.

“We are deeply disappointed by the handling of the incidents by the chief executive and relevant officials,” they said.

Photo: Supplied.

They also criticised the police handling of protests, listing incidents including protesters being shot with rubber bullets, the beating of unarmed people, impoliteness towards journalists, and allegedly turning a blind eye over the Yuen Long mob attack.

“The police did not protect residents, and were suspected to be colluding with thugs – serious misconduct. As civil servants, we strongly condemn the police,” they said.

Photo: Supplied.

They said they loved Hong Kong and wanted to serve its people.

“Let us walk together to defend Hong Kong’s core values and defend our freedom and rights,” they said.

Photo: Supplied.

They were joined by civil servants from dozens of departments who had issued similar statements earlier.

The other civil servants included officers from the Fire Services Department, Customs and Excise Department, Immigration Department and the Correctional Services Department.

Photo: Supplied.

In a statement, a group of firefighters and paramedics said police did not pick emergency calls by residents during the Yuen Long attacks, leaving them to face violent mobs. The group said many called firefighters to help, but they did not have relevant training, equipment and the legal power to use force against the men.

“We are very disappointed by the serious misconduct of the police. As part of the disciplinary forces, we believe you have brought shame upon your dignity,” they said.

Photo: Supplied.

A “Lennon Wall” has also appeared at the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office, which was formed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam herself to replace the Central Policy Unit.

“Resolve political issues with politics,” one sticky note read. “Launch an independent investigation,” another read.

Kris Cheng

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.