Hong Kong police have arrested five people inside public hospitals in connection with a protest on June 12, the Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan has confirmed.

Speaking at a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday, Chan said that as of October 17, five people – aged 22 to 29 – had been apprehended at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Jordan, Yan Chai Hospital in Tsuen Wan and Kwong Wah Hospital in Yau Ma Tei for riot-related offences in connection with the mass protests against the now-withdrawn extradition bill.

China extradition protest admiralty clash
Photo: Todd R. Darling/HKFP.

Around 150 tear gas canisters, 20 bean bag rounds and multiple rounds of rubber bullets were fired on June 12 after an overnight standoff between protesters and police descended into grisly confrontations outside the city’s legislature. Over 80 people were injured, according to the Hospital Authority, in addition to 22 police officers. The unrest marked the first firing of tear gas since large-scale pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014.

It was later reported by medical professionals that at least five people were arrested at public hospitals while seeking treatment for injuries sustained during the clashes.

Hong Kong’s medical sector lawmaker Pierre Chan said that he had evidence proving the police could access the Hospital Authority’s system to check details of injured protesters admitted, without using any special logins. He said that according to an internal email, staff members were encouraged to label patients admitted on June 12 with the description “Mass gathering outside Legco,” and identify them as “police,” “reporter,” “civilian,” or “others.”

A special task group was set up in late June to investigate whether a leak of patients’ information to police led to their arrests.

Sophia Chan
Sophia Chan. File photo: RTHK Screenshot.

A one-page report from Queen Elizabeth Hospital released on Tuesday said a probe found no evidence that staff had passed on patients’ data in relation to the June 12 protest, however, the emergency unit was congested by space constraints.

Chan said the Hospital Authority’s internal Accident and Emergency Information System is only available to staff with access rights, though police may make information requests to the authority to fulfil “the dual purposes of facilitating rescue and assisting the injured or their families.”

Chan was responding to questions about patients’ privacy from Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki. Her statement was made in consultation with the Security Bureau, the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority.

Hong Kong Free Press relies on direct reader support. Help safeguard independent journalism and press freedom as we invest more in freelancers, overtime, safety gear & insurance during this summer’s protests. 10 ways to support us.

fundraising fundraise banner

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.