Following are the opening remarks by the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations), Mr Cheung Tak-keung, at the press conference today (December 9).
The illegal road occupations have lasted for more than two months, and the daily lives and livelihoods of the general public have been seriously affected. The illegal road occupiers have totally defied the law and order. Their prolonged unlawful assembly and blockage of roads have undermined the rule of law which is a core value of Hong Kong. Different sectors of the community have clearly expressed their views in having the illegal road occupiers to respect the rule of law, to obey court orders and to immediately cease the illegal road occupation so that public order could be restored.
Last week, the Court of First Instance granted an Injunction Order regarding sections of illegally occupied roads in Central and Admiralty and the plaintiffs have completed the relevant procedures. This morning, Police met with the plaintiffs and bailiffs about the execution of the Injunction Order. Police will render full assistance to the bailiffs when necessary in executing the Injunction Order on the public carriageways on Connuaght Road Central, Harcourt Road and Cotton Tree Drive on December 11, that is the coming Thursday.
Police remind those who are still illegally occupying the roads that the court has authorized bailiffs to execute the court order. Any act of obstructing the execution of court order would amount to 'criminal contempt of court'. Police will take resolute actions against anyone who obstructs or violently charges the bailiffs who are executing their duty. Police will also reclaim misappropriated government properties, such as mills barriers and water barriers.
Police have pointed out on many occasions that the assembly at the illegally occupied areas in Admiralty is unlawful. There are radicals and troublemakers mixing with the crowd and the situation has become very complicated. The unlawful assembly in Admiralty is of high risk and Police have to re-open the illegally occupied roads so as to minimize the associated risks.
After assisting bailiffs with the execution of the Injunction Order on Thursday, Police will remove other obstacles on the carriageways and pavements in Admiralty and Central in order to re-open the nearby roads. These include Connaught Road Central, Harcourt Road, Tim Wa Avenue, Tim Mei Avenue and Gloucester Road. As for the illegally occupied road sections in Causeway Bay, Police will remove the obstacles and re-open the relevant roads at an appropriate time.
As a professional law enforcement agency, Police are duty bound to preserve public peace and to protect public safety and public order. As such, apart from complying with the instructions of the Injunction Order on Thursday, Police will also exercise other legal powers conferred by the law to remove obstacles blocking roads in the areas of Central and Admiralty so as to re-open the blocked roads so that the general public can resume their normal daily lives.
Police have been disseminating relevant information to the public through different channels before starting a Police operation, and this includes issuing press releases and statements, holding press briefings or even on-site media briefings. The purpose is to further enhance the transparency of Police operations. We hope that the illegal road occupiers could cooperate with Police so as to avoid unnecessary confrontations.
Police stress that the Injunction Order is a solemn order of the court. I want to remind the illegal occupiers that there would not be much time for them to pack their personal belongings on Thursday. Police once again urge the illegal occupiers to obey the court order, remove obstacles and take away personal belongings and leave in a peaceful and orderly manner so that the blocked roads can be re-opened and public order can be restored as soon as possible.
Police reiterate that we are duty bound to maintain public order and to protect public safety. Police will take resolute actions against anyone who attempts to block other roads or re-occupy roads that have been re-opened.
In the past two months, Police have demonstrated utmost tolerance and restraint in dealing with the illegal occupations as we do not want to see members of the public, particularly students, getting injured during large-scale confrontations. I hope that the illegal road occupiers could leave the area in a peaceful and orderly manner as soon as possible and not to resist or charge at Police with full body armuor or other offensive equipment.
I have noted that there are media reports that some illegal road occupiers had declared they would continue with their illegal occupations and resort to resistance. These radicals even stated that they would obstruct Police enforcement actions with different means such as throwing water bottles and bricks at Police officers. They claim that they need to protect or rescue their peers with violence. There is also a claim by an association that they would go to the illegally occupied areas to protect and support their children.
I need to point out that these statements would only increase the risk of confrontations by creating further resistance and even charging at Police. Under such circumstances, Police have to use necessary force to execute our duties. We are left with no other alternatives but to resort to the minimum use of force if there are confrontations caused by protestors. The so-called 'protection' or 'rescue' that some of the illegal road occupiers proclaimed are only excuses put up by radicals and troublemakers to cover their violent acts of charging and mask their illegal acts of defying the law. These excuses would only mislead others into risk of confrontations. We do not want to see protestors attempting to charge at Police, assault officers or to commit other illegal acts such as forcibly taking away of arrested persons.
The prolonged illegal blockage and occupation of major thoroughfares are undoubtedly unlawful and there is no excuse to obstruct Police enforcement actions. In fact, the current developments of the illegal occupation have completely deviated from the 'peaceful and non-violent' principles as proclaimed by the initiators and organizers of the illegal occupations.
Members of the public could see clearly from media reports and coverage that there are radicals and troublemakers mixing with the protestors illegally occupying the roads. They also incited others to violently charge Police cordon lines at various areas and ignored Police¡¦s repeated warnings and display of warning banners. I need to point out that if protestors take heed of Police advice to leave the area without putting up resistance or charging Police cordon lines, Police would not have to use any force.
During the operation and depending upon the behaviors and level of resistance put up by the illegal occupiers, Police will employ the necessary and proportional level of actions and these include the use of minimum level of force. There are stringent guidelines governing the use of force by officers and force will only be used to achieve an intended lawful purpose. Once the intended purpose has been achieved, the use of force will cease. Police will not tolerate any violent acts such as charging Police check lines by radicals and troublemakers and will take resolute actions in executing our statutory duty to protect public safety and public order. I urge members of the public, students in particular, to stay away from radicals and not to be used or incited by others to commit crimes. On Thursday, citizens should avoid going to the illegally occupied roads at Central and Admiralty areas unless it is absolutely necessary.
I hope that the illegal occupiers could leave the areas in a peaceful and orderly manner immediately. If they refuse to leave, Police would disperse them and may effect arrest against anyone who attempts to obstruct Police in execution of duty. I urge protestors not to obstruct Police officers who are taking enforcement actions, or to put up any form of resistance or attempt to violently charge at Police. I repeat that Police will not tolerate any violent acts and will take resolute actions against anyone using violence.
Police would also like to take this opportunity to remind frontline press and media workers to be vigilant of personal safety, particularly in midst of abrupt confrontations and to avoid placing themselves in between radical protestors and Police check lines. We advise the press to bring with them their staff cards or other documents to prove their press identity and to put on easily identifiable clothing or armband etc. Police will facilitate the work of the press as usual at scene and continue to deploy Media Liaison Teams to make proper arrangements.
Police have all along been politically neutral and we will continue to carry out our statutory duties in a fair and impartial manner. As a law enforcement agency, we do have the obligation to restore public order and to re-open blocked roads.
Hong Kong is a civilized and law-abiding society. Regrettably, the prolonged illegal occupations have seriously undermined the rule of law and disrupted public order. I hope that the illegal road occupiers could respect the rule of law, obey court orders, remove obstacles and take away personal belongings and to leave the areas in a peaceful and orderly manner immediately so that the blocked roads could be re-opened and public order be restored.
Ends/Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Issued at HKT 22:29