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A group of nine poets and artists from Songzhuang, an artist community in Beijing, were detained between 1 and 8 October for organizing an event where they had planned to read poetry and display posters in support of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Poet Wang Zang, also from Songzhuang, has also been criminally detained on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after he posted a photograph online of himself holding an umbrella, which has become the symbol of the Hong Kong protests. Wang Zang’s wife and their one-year old daughter were detained and not given any food or water for approximately nine hours at a police station in Beijing on 8 October when they tried to obtain information about his situation.

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AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PRESS RELEASE
15 October 2014

Hong Kong: Police officers must face justice for attack on protester

Hong Kong police officers involved in the beating and kicking of a detained pro-democracy protester on Wednesday must face justice, Amnesty International said.

Local TV news footage shows social worker Ken Tsang Kin Chiu being taken away by six police officers in the early hours of Wednesday, his hands tied behind his back. The police officers then appear to carry Tsang around a corner and put him on the ground. The publicly available video shows that some officers proceed repeatedly to kick and punch Tsang, who is seen curled-up in a ball, while other police officers stood by.

Amnesty International spoke to a lawyer assisting Tsang who confirmed the details of the attack, and that the victim was taken by police to a local hospital to receive medical treatment. Police have since said they will conduct an investigation into the incident.

“This appears to be a vicious attack against a detained man who posed no threat to the police. Any investigation into this incident must be carried out promptly and all individuals involved in unlawful acts must be prosecuted,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.

“It is stomach-churning to think there are Hong Kong police officers that feel they are above the law.”

According to the lawyer, Tsang was initially arrested for assaulting a police officer. The charges against Tsang were then changed to unlawful assembly and obstructing police officers from carrying out their duties. He remains in police custody and will be interviewed after receiving medical treatment.

The incident occurred at around 3am on Wednesday morning as police attempted to remove pro-democracy protesters who had occupied a road just off the main protest site in downtown Hong Kong. Police used pepper-spray against scores of protesters. According to police 45 people were arrested.

“All those being held solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly must be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Mabel Au.

“Amnesty International urges the Hong Kong police to show restraint and avoid any unlawful use of force.”

Police have stepped-up operations this week to remove barricades set up by pro-democracy protesters in an effort to reduce the areas occupied by demonstrators.

Amnesty International
Urgent Action
UA 255/14
9 October 2014

DETAINED FOR SUPPORTING HONG KONG PROTESTS

At least 26 people, including several poets and artists, have been detained in Beijing for showing support for the pro­-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Thirteen people are known to have been accused of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, and could face up to five years in prison if formally charged.

A group of nine poets and artists from Songzhuang, an artist community in Beijing, were detained between 1 and 8 October for organizing an event where they had planned to read poetry and display posters in support of the pro­democracy protests in Hong Kong. Poet Wang Zang, also from Songzhuang, has also been criminally detained on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after he posted a photograph online of himself holding an umbrella, which has become the symbol of the Hong Kong protests. Wang Zang’s wife and their one-­year-old daughter were detained and not given any food or water for approximately nine hours at a police station in Beijing on 8 October when they tried to obtain information about his situation.

Another group of 11 activists are being criminally detained in Beijing on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”. They were detained on 30 September and 1 October after photographs were circulated on social media of them having dinner and holding placards in support of the Hong Kong protests.

Several people have also been detained in other parts of mainland China, including in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing and Jiangsu, for activities such as shaving their heads in solidarity with the demonstrators, or planning to travel to Hong Kong to join the protests. This is part of a wider attempt by the Chinese authorities to silence any discussion or displays of support for the events in Hong Kong. The popular photo­-sharing platform Instagram has been blocked. Government censors have attempted to remove all positive mentions of the pro­democracy protests online, while forcing newspapers and TV stations to only use the state­-sponsored narrative of the protests.

Please write immediately in Chinese, English or your own language:

  • Urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those detained for peacefully showing support for the pro­democracy protests in Hong Kong (please include the names of those detained in Beijing which can be found overleaf);
  • Calling on the authorities to ensure all those detained have regular access to their lawyers, family, and any medical treatment they require.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 7 NOVEMBER 2014 TO:

Director of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau
Fu Zhenghua Juzhang
Beijingshi Gong’anju
9 Dongdajie, Qianmen
Dongchengqu
Beijingshi 100740
People’s Republic of China
Fax: + 86 10 65242927
Salutation: Dear Director

Vice­ Premier
Wang Yang
The State Council General Office
2 Fuyoujie, Xichengqu
Beijingshi 100017
People’s Republic of China
Email: english@mail.gov.cn
Salutation: Your Excellency

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Thousands of people have been occupying parts of downtown Hong Kong since 26 September to demand further electoral reform. The protests grew in size after the unlawful use of tear gas and pepper spray by the police against peaceful protestors on the first night of the demonstrations. Since then, the police have taken a less confrontational approach.

On 3 and 4 October, protesters faced attacks by counter-­demonstrators. Women and girls were among those targeted, including incidents of sexual assault, harassment and intimidation. Amnesty International has the first­hand witness account of a woman being physically attacked and threatened, and has received credible information from women’s organizations, media reports, publicly available videos and other sources about further assaults and abuse happening while police stood by and did nothing. Protesters remain on the streets but in dwindling numbers.

The charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” (Article 293 of Criminal Law) carries a maximum of five years imprisonment if the person commits one of the acts of creating disturbances, thus disrupting public order such as forcibly taking or demanding, damaging, destroying or occupying public or private property with serious circumstances; or creating disturbances in a public place, thus causing serious disorder in such place etc. If the person gathers others and commits the behaviours repeatedly that seriously undermine public order, he or she will receive a maximum of ten years imprisonment but no less than five years imprisonment.

Amnesty International
Press release
3 October 2014

Hong Kong: Women and girls attacked as police fail to protect peaceful protesters

Hong Kong’s police failed in their duty to protect hundreds of peaceful pro-democracy protesters from attacks by counter demonstrators on Friday evening, Amnesty International said.

Women and girls were among those targeted, including incidents of sexual assault, harassment and intimidation, as counter-demonstrators clashed with pro-democracy protesters in the Mongkok and Causeway Bay areas of Hong Kong on Friday evening.

“The police inaction tonight is shameful. The authorities have failed in their duty to protect peaceful protesters who came under attack,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.

“There has been a heavy police presence during the past week, but their failure tonight risks fuelling an increasingly volatile situation.”

Amnesty International has first-hand witness accounts of women being physically attacked and threatened, while police stood by and did nothing.

One woman at the demonstration in Mongkok told Amnesty International how a man grabbed her breasts while she was standing with other protesters at around 4pm. She also witnessed the same man assault two other women by touching their groins. Several police officers witnessed this but failed to take any action against the man. Fellow protesters then intervened to prevent the man attacking any more women.

Police reinforcements appeared only hours after the atmosphere became violent, but the police still struggled to maintain control.

It is unclear whether the police simply underestimated the risk posed by counter-demonstrators, or whether they decided not to intervene.

The authorities have an obligation to protect peaceful protesters from violent attacks. Demonstrators must be allowed to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

Under international standards, a peaceful assembly does not become illegal because some counter-demonstrators act in an unruly or even violent way.

Since the late afternoon, the situation has become increasingly tense, and police seemed to have had difficulty maintaining control. Observers reported that police forces were not sufficient for several hours, despite widespread reports of an urgently deteriorating situation.

The police have made some arrests, but this seems to have made no affect on the counter-demonstrators.

Amnesty International posted the following story in regards to the arrest of over 500 protesters in Hong Kong last week:

According to organizers, over 510,000 people took part in the 1 July protest march marking the 17th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China.

The previous day, student groups – the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism – who are both calling for “genuine universal suffrage” invited participants to join a sit-in after the march on Chater Road and in front of the Chief Executive Office in Central, Hong Kong’s business district. The protesters publicly announced both assemblies would end at 8 a.m. However, the police started to forcibly remove protesters from Chater Road at approximately 3 a.m.

In the early morning of 2 July, police arrested 511 people, mostly students, who took part in the sit-in at Chater Road. At 8am, the remaining approximately 50 protesters, left according to plan. Some of the 511 detained have complained that they were not provided with food and water and were not given access to legal representation for several hours during detention at the Hong Kong Police College in Wong Chuk Hang.

While the 511 have now all been released, twenty-five protesters who took part in the sit-in, most of them students, remain under investigation for “illegal assembly”, “organizing and assisting in an illegal assembly” and “obstruction in a public place”. These twenty-five were released on bail on 2 July but they are required to report to the police in late July and early August. They are at risk of having formal charges brought against them.

In the morning of 4 July, five members of Civil Human Rights Front, who organized the 1 July march were also arrested for investigation of delays during the march, mainly due to a slow-moving lead vehicle. It is uncertain whether the police will arrest more people for taking part in the protests.

Please sign a petition to Mr. Rimsky Yuen, SC, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice to demand the Hong Kong government to stop pursuing the charges against the peaceful protesters.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PUBLIC STATEMENT

10 February 2008

China: Authorities urged to withdraw rules limiting press freedom

The new rules announced on 6 February, requiring Hong Kong and Macao journalists to obtain prior approval from the authorities before each and every trip to the mainland, is a step backwards compared with the interim arrangement for the Olympics which was promulgated on 30 December 2006 and expired on 17 October 2008.

The requirement for prior official approval allows the Chinese authorities to limit access to the mainland for journalists from media agencies that take a harder line against the government as well as to censor the topics these journalists are going to cover. This new regulation is a structural obstacle that hampers the normal work of Hong Kong and Macao journalists. The control is much tighter than the current media regulation for foreign journalists promulgated on 17 October 2008 as well as the current one for Taiwanese journalists promulgated on 1 November 2008. Both regulations allow multi-entry to China until the permit expires.

China has applied separate regulatory frameworks to foreign journalists and those from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. Their treatment was similar during the Olympics and its preparatory period but now varies under current regulations. The current media regulation for Hong Kong and Macao journalists is the tightest of the three.

2009 is a year with many notable anniversaries in China, including the 50th anniversary of the 1959 uprising in Tibet, the 30th anniversary of the “Democracy Wall” movement, and the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy Tiananmen protests. All these anniversaries will draw media attention.

The authorities should remove all unnecessary restrictions so that journalists from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, foreign or domestic, can carry out their profession and report stories in a context in line with provisions of freedom of expression in human rights documents.

Background

On 6 February 2009, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office under the State Council issued the Measures on the Reporting Activities of Hong Kong and Macanese Journalists in Mainland China. Under this regulation, before making any mainland trips, reporters from Hong Kong and Macao have to obtain a press card issued by the state-controlled All-China Journalists Association, through the liaison office of the central government in their localities. These journalists must also obtain prior consent from the interviewed and present to them the above mentioned press cards or resident correspondent press cards.

On 30 December 2006, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office issued temporary measures for Hong Kong and Macanese journalists during the Olympics and its preparation period. Similar to the temporary media regulations for foreign and Taiwanese journalists during that period, this relatively more relaxed regulation allowed reporters from Hong Kong and Macao news agencies to travel to the mainland with a valid multi-entry travel document and conduct interviews as long as they obtained the consent from the interviewed. Despite these media regulations, journalists continued to report harassment while conducting interviews before and during the Olympics.

About me & Disclaimer

I am a volunteer for Amnesty International USA. The opinion expressed on this blog does not represent the positions, strategies or opinions of AIUSA, AI headquarter in UK, or any other organization on planet earth.

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