Following are the opening remarks by the Chief Superintendent of Police Public Relations Branch, Mr Hui Chun-tak, at the press conference today (October 17).
First of all, Police have stressed in the past days that illegal occupation of roads with large obstacles was the main cause for the many sudden confrontations. Many persons had been injured, including the illegal road occupiers, their opponents and police officers. Mong Kok is a high risk area. Police have all along urged the protestors to remove the large obstacles on the roads as soon as possible.
This morning, Police conducted an operation in Mong Kok to remove these illegal obstacles. Starting from about 5.20am, Police removed the illegal obstacles in the area of Nathan Road and Argyle Street. The purpose was to re-open the major thoroughfares, including Nathan Road and Argyle Street, for traffic.
In the operation, most of the protestors were cooperative, leaving the illegally occupied roads on their own with their belongings. Police then removed the obstacles and rubbish left behind. The operation was conducted in a largely smooth and peaceful manner.
Some protestors who refused to leave are now illegally occupying three southbound lanes on the section of Nathan Road between Argyle Street and Nelson Street, obstructing the traffic in the vicinity.
I also note that there are people advocating on the Internet to get back Mong Kok with the use of violence tonight. I hope the radical protestors can understand that Police operation to remove obstacles served to reduce the impacts of the illegal occupation on traffic and the public・s daily lives. Police have the duty to protect the public・s rights to use the roads.
I emphasize that Police will not tolerate further blockage of the re-opened roads by the radical protestors. Should there be any acts of violence, Police will take resolute actions.
I appeal to other protestors illegally occupying roads in other districts to stop occupying the roads. Your illegal acts have already seriously affected the road traffic and normal daily lives of the general public. I hope you can all leave as soon as possible, so that public order can be restored and the public will no longer be perturbed by the road blockage.
I will now talk about the flash-mob and harassing tactics employed by the radical protestors, who willfully dashed onto the road causing chaos and ignored the dangers caused to other road users. Their illegal acts have caused serious threats to the personal safety of other road users.
In the early morning yesterday, on the westbound of Lung Wo Road near Tim Mei Avenue, radical protestors suddenly erected mill barriers on the flower-beds along the road, neglecting the dangers caused by mill barriers that may fall onto other road users, especially the drivers travelling past.
At around the same time, ten odd males suddenly threw traffic cones and rubbish bins onto Johnston Road, Wan Chai, and quickly dispersed. One citizen tried to stop them but was pushed by a male. He fell and sustained injuries. The suspect escaped afterward. The injured citizen had been sent for medical treatment. The case has been classified as ．Wounding・ and is investigated by District Investigation Team of Wan Chai Police District.
These reckless and illegal acts have put others・ safety at risk. The general public will not accept such selfish acts of nuisance and breach of public order. You could imagine, if the drivers did not react in time, there will be traffic accidents and the consequences can be very very serious. Police strongly condemn such reckless acts.
I appeal to protestors not to take part in or imitate such reckless flash-mob harassing behaviors. These are not only illegal but would cause serious threats to safety of other road users. Police will collect evidence and investigate such cases and may take arrest action.
I reiterate that any person committing illegal acts whether in the real world or on social media platforms, including inciting other person to commit illegal acts, must bear the criminal liability and will be sanctioned. Police will collect evidence, conduct investigation and take arrest actions if necessary.
I believe that many of you have seen a video clip on the Internet showing three police officers being surrounded by over two hundred radical protestors, when they carried out their duties with utmost restraint and devotion.
The officers saw a radical protestor kicked a water bottle which hit a passing car on Lung Wo Road. You can imagine the danger it would cause to the driver. Our officers arrested the person for disorderly conduct in public place, but were surrounded, scolded and confronted by over two hundreds radical protestors. They hurled abused and demanded the release of the arrested person. The three officers took a defensive position with their extendible batons drawn. However, with their hands raised, the radical protestors charged the officers with their bodies and kicked them with legs. Some radical protestors even tried to snatch the arrested person away. Our officers remained steadfast and held out until the arrival of reinforcement.
Hong Kong is a city under the rule of law. Everyone must obey the law and respect the rule of law. As a professional lawful enforcement agency, Hong Kong Police will continue to discharge our duties to maintain the law and order, and safeguard the public safety professionally. The profound devotion of the three officers sets an excellent example and should be highly praised.
The difficulty and complexity of Police operation in recent weeks is unprecedented. Our officers not only had to work for prolonged hours to handle large number of protestors, they also had to handle radical trouble makers who abused them with provocation and insults. Our officers have remained professional, restrained and committed, and continue to work hard for the interests of the general public.
In the various confrontations arising from the illegal occupation of roads, especially when radical protestors charged the police cordon lines, a number of our officers were injured. Up to this morning, we have received reports of 38 officers being injured. They were injured on the heads and limbs when separating the protestors of different camps, injured on the chests and backs when being pushed and bumped, scratched when controlling the radical protestors, got joint-dislocation after being pushed, injured by umbrellas, or splashed with liquid of unknown nature. They were also injured after being thrown with water bottles, stone or hard objects.
I also learn that friends from the media got hurt when reporting the scenes of confrontation. I fully understand your duty to report. But I wish to remind you all. When there are confrontations or chaos, you will easily get injured if you stand in the lines of confrontation. I hope you can be cautious of your personal safety, and make appropriate arrangements. Just a friendly reminder, when Police need to disperse the illegal assembly, do not stay in the middle of the violent protestors or you may get hurt in the chaos.
Hong Kong Police are now facing unprecedented challenges. But please be assured that we will continue to go about our duties professionally and impartially, and work hard for the best interest of Hong Kong citizens.
Ends/Friday, October 17, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:03