Statement: Hong Kong Police Force shoot protestor in appalling escalation of brutality

On 1 October 2019, a police officer fired a live round at a protestor at close range, leaving the young man in a critical condition. This is an appalling escalation of police brutality which demands a robust response from the British government and the wider international community.

There were widespread protests across Hong Kong on Tuesday, as the Chinese Communist Party marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, with confrontations taking place across the city between protestors and the Hong Kong police. During one of these confrontations, a police officer shot the young Form Five student from point blank range with a live bullet.

Although Hong Kong Watch does not support or condone the violence of a minority of protestors in these confrontations, the police response was grossly disproportionate.

This incident is part of a wider cycle of police brutality. A recent Amnesty International report confirms “an alarming pattern of the Hong Kong Police Force deploying reckless and indiscriminate tactics” in their arrests, as well as beating and torturing people in detention.

The intimidation of the press in recent weeks is also unacceptable. A journalist for an Indonesian-language publication was recently shot with a rubber bullet, despite the journalist not being in the vicinity of protestors and being clearly identifiable as a member of the press. The Foreign Correspondent’s Club report that over the weekend journalists were hit by tear gas canisters and rubber bullets, targeted with pepper spray, verbally threatened by the police, and blocked from documenting the arrests of protestors.

Hong Kong Watch calls on the United Kingdom government to consider measures which can be taken to defend the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong. The integrity of the Sino-British Joint Declaration is gravely threatened, and the government should consider every available means to stand with people in Hong Kong. This should include extending the rights of BNO passport holders; extending Magnitsky sanctions to officials who have committed abuses of human rights; and establishing a ‘contact group’ at the United Nations of like-minded countries to act collectively to defend the rights and freedoms of Hong Kongers.