29 Aug 2019

#MeToo: Hong Kong protesters call out sexual harassment by police

8:04 pm on 29 August 2019

Several thousand people have rallied in Hong Kong to protest against alleged sexual violence by police during the past months of demonstrations.

Thousands gathered at Chater Garden of Hong Kong on Wednesday Aug 28, 2019 to demand answers from Hong Kong police over alleged instances of sexual violence during extradition bill protests.

Photo: AFP / Sunny Mok / EYEPRESS

The rally was billed as a #MeToo event, echoing global protests to end sexual assault and harassment.

Organisers said some 30,000 people attended, while police put the figure at 11,500, local media say.

Hong Kong Police said they respected the rights of people in detention, and had not received formal complaints.

At Wednesday's rally, some attendees told the crowd they had been mistreated by police officers.

According to the South China Morning Post, one woman broke down in tears as she accused police of conducting an unnecessary strip-search.

Police officials had denied her allegations on Tuesday, saying their video footage did not support her account.

Another speaker said her underwear had been exposed while she was dragged away by police, and said officers insulted her and called her a prostitute.

"I told them I was wearing a dress and asked them to let me walk. But, of course, they played deaf," reports quoted her as saying.

People take part in a #MeToo rally in Hong Kong on August 28, 2019, to protest alleged sexual assaults by police against anti-government female protesters. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

Photo: Philip FONG / AFP

"I am not ashamed of talking about what happened that night, because I did not make any mistakes. I am not a weakling. I don't need people to sympathise with me."

The anti-government rallies in Hong Kong have frequently escalated into violence between police and activists, with injuries on both sides.

Police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets, while some activists have thrown bricks, firebombs and other objects. On Wednesday, police said 900 people had been arrested since the protests began.

Demonstrators have repeatedly accused the police of brutality, and are demanding an independent inquiry.

At a separate protest organised by the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, hundreds of people denounced Cathay Pacific Airways for dismissing staff who took part in or supported anti-government rallies.

Cathay Pacific protest

Earlier this month, demonstrations at Hong Kong international airport led to hundreds of flights being cancelled.

The protests began as rallies against a controversial extradition bill - now suspended - which would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

They have since expanded in scope, becoming a broader pro-democracy movement.

Beijing has repeatedly condemned the protesters and described their actions as "close to terrorism".

On Thursday, China's military rotated a new batch of troops into Hong Kong. State media described the move as a routine annual rotation.

News agency Xinhua showed pictures of armoured personnel carriers and trucks, as well as a small naval ship arriving in Hong Kong.

A former British colony, Hong Kong has some autonomy and more rights than the Chinese mainland under a "one country, two systems" agreement.

It has its own judiciary and a separate legal system from mainland China.


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