Hong Kong police made at least 87 arrests on Oct. 1, as thousands of protesters took to the streets in defiance of a police ban on a protest march in support of 12 activists detained by the China Coast Guard as they tried to flee to democratic Taiwan. Among the arrestees was a man who was surrounded by riot police as he was smoking a cigarette on the street. In an incident filmed by the media, the man was later shoved to the ground, his glasses flying off his face. The man, who gave only the nickname Kelvin, spoke to RFA’s Cantonese Service about his experiences in police custody:
I told the riot police they should either charge me or arrest me. One of them snatched away my phone. I told them if they wanted to arrest me, they should arrest me, not rob me of my personal property. I said I would give them my belongings for safekeeping if they completed a normal arrest procedure.
I was very upset that they just stole my personal property without going through proper procedures.
I told them: “I don’t have a problem if you want to give me a ticket or arrest me, but I want you to do it legally.”
[The police proceeded to arrest Kelvin, who later asked for medical treatment for injuries sustained during the arrest.]
After I arrived at the hospital, I was told by a riot police officer I didn’t know and hadn’t seen before that the officers had used excessive force, and that he didn’t see any reason to arrest me.
He told me: “How about we just make a symbolic arrest. Your personal belongings or phone won’t be confiscated and you won’t be cuffed when you go onto the ward.”
When we got to the triage station at Ruttonjee Hospital, the riot police couldn’t undo the cable ties [used to secure my hands]. My hands were bruised and bleeding.
Then they got very nervous and started asking around for scissors, asking a woman working in the emergency room if they could borrow some. They managed to cut it open, but I was left with cuts from the scissors on my right and left hands.
They are supposed to be professionally trained to use appropriate force and restraining methods, but they couldn’t even get the cable tie open. I think it was unreasonable of them to injure an arrested person trying to get the cable tie open.
This was totally an arbitrary arrest. As members of the public, we have no control over arbitrary arrests by police, who can arrest as many people as they like. But there’s no way to press charges against them after you have been arrested, so what’s the point [of complaining]?
I think people who have acted against their conscience will be punished one day.
After the video was released, I was asked if I was afraid of getting into more trouble with police.
I would like to say that from the first day I took to the streets, I was expecting to be arrested. I am not afraid.
[Police later released Kelvin and three others arrested at the same time on bail. They are required to report to local police stations this month.]
Reported by Man Hoi-tsan for RFA’s Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.