2020-05-11
Protest Against Police’s Abuse of Power Using the Pandemic

Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese 

Protest Against Police’s Abuse of Power Using the Pandemic

 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, at the end of March, the Hong Kong Government enacted the "Prevention and Control of Diseases (Prohibition of Group Aggregation) Regulation" (hereinafter referred to as "Prohibition on Group Gathering Order”). Police uses this order to suppress Hong Kong people’s freedom of assembly and expression of opinions. The Hong Kong government not only does not stop such abuse of power, but tolerates the Police’s continuous suppression, which is outrageous!

 

 

In the middle of the pandemic, the Hong Kong government implemented a social-distancing measure: “Prohibition on Group Gathering Order ". People worry about the outbreak of the disease in the community, the burden on medical staff, and themselves and their families being infected. Hence, even in the face of a totalitarian government, there is not much opposition in the society. Yet, unexpectedly, the police uses the order to search and harass “Yellow Restaurants” (Restaurants which openly support last year’s protests and especially the protesters). On May 1st Labour Day, two political parties sent four people, in 2 batches 1.5 meters apart, to the Central Government Office to deliver petitions. The police used the "Prohibition on Group Gathering Order" to force them to stop at Admiralty MTR station, and issued a penalty ticket to each of the eight people.

 

 

The police has different ways of law enforcement with different people. On May 2nd, several representatives from the Federation of Trade Unions went to the US consulate to protest. Within half an hour, three related groups came to the consulate to protest on the same issue. More than four people were in the same group, but the police did not stop them nor issue any ticket.

 

 

On May 10 Mother's Day, members from the Food and Hospitality Workers Union, District Council members, and Fulin Palace Restaurant workers went to the restaurant as part of an industrial action, demanding restaurant management to explain to workers who have been on no paid leave for more than two months. During the process, police asked the group to disperse on the basis of social distancing, established a blockade line to protect Fulin's management personnel, then dispersed the group and arrested two people.

 

 

People in different countries, while fighting the epidemic and maintaining social distancing, can express their appeals to the government through various social actions. However, the Hong Kong government added to the social-distancing measure that the gathering must not "have the same intent", using the opportunity to suppress the civil society. In the past few months, many citizens have experienced, whether they were walking on the street, shopping in shopping malls, or passing by, if they showed slight dissatisfaction with the Police, they would receive a penalty ticket. It has also been reported that police placed strangers together and charged them for violating the social distancing order. All of the above prove that the law has surpassed the need for pandemic prevention and has been distorted by the police into a tool for suppression.

 

 

In the past few months, Hong Kong people have been suffering from the epidemic and the social-distancing measure. The Police’s indiscriminate arrests have made Hong Kong people even more discouraged, disappointed and angry.

 

 

We demand: The Hong Kong Government immediately responds to the five demands in order to resolve social conflicts; The police stops using the "Prohibition on Group Gathering Order" to suppress social movements; The police immediately apologizes to the press for the recent suppression of journalists and stops obstructing freedom of reporting; Due to unfair law enforcement, all unreasonable charges related to the "Prohibition on Group Gathering Order" should be revoked; The Hong Kong Government immediately establishes an independent Police Monitoring Body, with investigative and prosecutorial powers.

 

 

"Woe to those who turn judgment to wormwood and cast justice to the ground!" (Amos 5: 7)

 

 

Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese

 

11th May, 2020