Woman Says Hong Kong Police Mistook Her for Protester, Pushed Her Down Stairs

Police officers stand guard at Po Lam Station during a standoff with protesters on September 5, 2019 in Hong Kong, China. Pro-democracy protesters have continued demonstrations across Hong Kong since 9 June against a controversial bill which allows extraditions to mainland China, as the ongoing protests, many ending up in …
Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

A woman only identified by the surname “Shi” told the pro-democracy Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily on Thursday that police pushed her down a staircase and bludgeoned her in the head for wearing a black shirt and passing through a Mass Transit Rail (MTR) station.

The incident reportedly occurred on Sunday night at Hong Kong’s Siu Hong MTR station, where protesters had reportedly convened. Police attacked protesters with pepper spray and attempted to round up people accused of causing a disturbance. “Miss Shi,” as Apple Daily calls her, was simply commuting home, she says, when she found herself in a train station with a heavy police and protester presence. While she was wearing black, she says she was not a protester and did not carry any of the other hallmarks of the protest movement, such as gas masks to protect from tear gas or pepper spray.

Police reportedly spread throughout the MTR system late Sunday to find individuals authorities say vandalized several stations. Shi reportedly said police stopped her to check identification and that she stayed for an extended period within the station to avoid getting dragged into what appeared to be an increasingly chaotic encounter between police and alleged protesters.

A rush of the estimated 100 people gathered took Shi by surprise, she said, as she was standing at the top of a staircase. “When she saw police rushing towards her, she immediately fell down,” Apple Daily reports. She accused police of actively pushing her down the stairs.

The assault continued. According to Shi, officers began beating her with batons, hitting her hard in the back of the head and causing bleeding. She says the wound required four stitches; Apple Daily published images of the damage that did not reveal her identity.

The incident allegedly occurred during a violent weekend in Hong Kong. The most egregious incidents of police brutality were reported at the Prince Edward MTR station, where Radio Free Asia (RFA) gathered witness evidence that police were “indiscriminately” beating people seated on trains, including people with no obvious relation to the protest movement and people not wearing black, the signature color of the protesters.

“The police, who wore the black, armored uniforms of the ‘raptor’ special forces, appeared to be in pursuit of protesters, but instead attacked passengers indiscriminately, the footage showed. One was a small boy who was left with head injuries,” RFA reported.

Nathan Law, the head of the protest movement Demosisto, corroborated the RFA report, stating that police “got into the carriage [train car] and indifferently beat up all the people in it regardless [if] they are protesters or simply passengers.”

Hong Kong health workers also accused police of preventing them from entering the MTR station to offer first aid to those injured, particularly important for people bleeding from the head who may have suffered brain damage. As the days passed and more video footage surfaced, new accusations have surfaced in the weekend’s attack. The Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported on Tuesday, for example, that a man believed to be a protester lost consciousness after being “wrestled to the ground” by police and officers aggressively blocked a paramedic from checking for significant injury.

The HKFP cited the city’s Hospital Authority as confirming three people hospitalized over the Prince Edward MTR station attacks.

The pro-democracy protesters have repeatedly accused the police of using violence against them and attacking people who have nothing to do with them. In April, several imprisoned “protesters” complained that they were charged with unlawful assembly or “rioting” without evidence that they even supported the protest movement’s demands. Several objected to not having access to their lawyer while behind bars.

Protests continued late Wednesday and Thursday despite Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Wednesday that the government would yield to one of the protesters’ five demands: the full withdrawal of a proposed law to allow China to extradite anyone from Hong Kong. Protesters feared that violating Communist Party free speech provisions in ostensibly free Hong Kong would result in being disappeared into the “mainland,” and that enforcing Chinese laws was a violation of the mutually agreed-upon “One Country, Two Systems” policy.

Protesters are also demanding freedom for their prisoners of conscience, an independent investigation into police brutality against protesters, direct election of lawmakers, and a government apology for calling the peaceful June 12 protest a riot.

“Too little and too late now – Carrie Lam’s response comes after 7 lives sacrificed, more than 1,200 protestors arrested, in which many are mistreated in police station [sic],” Joshua Wong, the secretary-general of the Demosisto pro-freedom organization, wrote in response to the death of the extradition bill. “We urge the world too to alert this tactic and not to be deceived by HK and Beijing Govt. They have conceded nothing in fact, and a full-scale clampdown is on the way.”

Under the message “five key demands, not one less,” protesters resumed their activities Thursday.

Authorities accused protesters of ambushing and gang-beating the manager of the Po Lam MTR station early Thursday morning.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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