Amnesty International announced Thursday that field investigators with the organization documented nearly two dozen testimonies of once-jailed individuals who say that they were abused or even tortured by arresting officers since protests began in June.
The NGO adds that the information obtained has been corroborated with follow-up interviews with attorneys representing alleged victims, medical professionals who treated protesters and other relevant parties.
One protester told Amnesty International that he was attacked and arrested by HKPF officers as he was trying to flee the scene of a protest in Tsim Sha Tsui in August.
"Immediately I was beaten to the ground. Three of them got on me and pressed my face hard to the ground. A second later, they kicked my face; everything I had on my face, including my glasses, flew off,” the demonstrator alleged.
“The same three [Special Tactical Squad members] kept putting pressure on my body. I started to have difficulty breathing, and I felt severe pain in my left ribcage … They said to me, ‘Just shut up, stop making noise. You came out; you’re a hero, right?'"
Medical records obtained by Amnesty International field investigators revealed that the man spent two days in a hospital and was diagnosed with a fractured rib and additional injuries.
Another individual who was arrested protesting in the New Territories area in August alleged that he was tortured while detained by HKPF officers following his refusal to answer a police intake question.
The unnamed man recounted that several officers took him to a separate room after he refused to cooperate with the questioning and threatened to break his hands if he attempted to defend himself as they beat him.
He claimed he was then held down by officers as another cop used his fingers to pry his eyes open.
“Don’t you like to point this at people?” one officer allegedly said while pointing a pen light’s laser directly into the victim’s eye. Demonstrators have been known to use the compact lasers as a method of distracting HKPF officers during protests and at police headquarters.
Amnesty International says the arrested individual was “hospitalized for several days with a bone fracture and internal bleeding” following the incident.
“The evidence leaves little room for doubt – in an apparent thirst for retaliation, Hong Kong’s security forces have engaged in a disturbing pattern of reckless and unlawful tactics against people during the protests,” Amnesty International's East Asia Director Nicholas Bequelin said in the news release. “This has included arbitrary arrests and retaliatory violence against arrested persons in custody, some of which has amounted to torture.”
This comes exactly one week after the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner issued a notice urging mainland China, Hong Kong officials and the HKPF to respect the rights of protesters.
“The way forward is not through the repression of dissenting voices and the use of excessive force,” read the joint statement from UN experts with ties to the US, France, Switzerland and Togo. “We urge authorities to engage in a genuine dialogue with a view to addressing the concerns of an enormous number of protesters who are worried about the future of Hong Kong.”
Following in the footsteps of London, Washington lawmakers recently proposed legislation that would ban the export of tear gas and other crowd control equipment to China.
“If violent crimes similar to those in Hong Kong take place in the US, would those American Congress people maintain the same level of ‘benevolence’?” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said of the bill last week.
Authorities are unlikely to suffer from the ban, however, as many companies in mainland China have prepped for the impending import shortage.