Hong Kong’s Correctional Services Department (CSD) have deployed reinforcement to quash an 18-person protest at the city’s largest women’s prison on Thursday. According to sources cited by local media, the group included ousted pro-democracy district councillor Tiffany Yuen.

The prisoners, according to the CSD, had “exerted pressure” on prison management to revoke disciplinary action against other inmates. The department did not specify how the prisoners had made their grievances known.

HK_LoWu Correctional Institution
Photo: Wikicommons.

At 3:58pm, a CSD response team dubbed the Black Panthers, and a dog unit were called in to help front line staff “to remove 18 persons in custody from association for investigation” at the Lo Wu Correctional Institution, according to the department. The removal operation continued for at least three hours.

“The CSD is committed to ensuring a safe and secure custodial environment, and will take every measure to combat any form of illegal activities inside the institution,” the department said.

Surprise search

The details leading up to the enforcement action remain unclear. According to the authorities, the 18 inmates were protesting against disciplinary action enforced against six fellow prisoners. The officers said they had found “prohibited articles” in the inmates’ possession during a surprise raid at a prison workshop earlier that morning.

“The institution management received intelligence in recent days that individual remand persons in custody have attempted to build up forces and incited others to participate,” the department said.

Tiffany Yuen
Tiffany Yuen. Photo: Tiffany Yuen, via Facebook.

Yuen was sentenced to four months in prison in May for participating in an unauthorised assembly last June 4 to commemorate victims of Beijing’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1989.

She is also among the 47 pro-democracy election hopefuls facing national security law charges over an unofficial primary election to choose legislative candidates for the democratic camp. She was ousted from her seat as a district councillor after the government gazetted a law requiring oaths of loyalty from local public officers.

HKFP has reached out to the CSD for comment.

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Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.