The head of a Hong Kong police association has warned that officers would have to make a “sole and necessary decision” if protesters tried to grab officers’ pistols.
On Saturday, as an officer tried to subdue a protester in Tuen Mun, several other demonstrators attacked him in an effort to fend him off. One of them tried unsuccessfully to grab the officer’s pistol, but other officers arrived on the scene to break up the melee.
Lam Chi-wai, chair of the Junior Police Officers’ Association, mentioned the incident in a letter to members issued on Monday. He said that police officers were trained to protect their pistols by all means.
“Police pistols are our second lives when we are on duty. If our pistols are grabbed, it means that our lives are in danger,” he wrote.
“Rioters, are you really mentally prepared to threaten police or other people’s lives? Regardless of whether you have this mental preparation, if you take this step, we will have to make the sole and necessary decision when we have no choice. Please think carefully,” he added. He did not elaborate on what the decision would entail.
Lam also wrote that protesters assaulted residents with different political views and caused serious injuries.
“Such assaults are no different from murder – the level of brutality is the same as that of wild animals,” he wrote.
As protesters accuse police officers of treating them differently to pro-police demonstrators, some of them have vowed to defend themselves with force if attacked by gangs or pro-government activists.
Hong Kong has seen more than 100 days of demonstration and unrest triggered by the soon-to-be-withdrawn extradition bill, which would have allowed case-by-case fugitive transfers to mainland China. Large-scale peaceful protests have morphed into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment and alleged police brutality.
In Monday’s letter, Lam wrote that few people have strongly condemned protesters other than top government officials, the police force and a minority of lawmakers.
“A sense of justice motivated my colleagues and I to stand firm on our positions to defend Hong Kong – but we are humans, we will get tired, we will feel powerless, we will feel isolated,” he wrote. “I urge again all rational Hong Kong people, especially those public figures who boast of their conscience, to break your silence, to let us know people of justice are not lonely, to let rioters know that Hong Kong is not a place that they can run amock.”
Last week, Lam warned that live ammo may be used against protesters who hurl petrol bombs at officers. And in July, he used dehumanising language to describe demonstrators: “Such low lives can only be called by the name of the insect which is most afraid of light – cockroaches,” he wrote in a letter.
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