The police force in Hong Kong is facing ridicule after attempting to co-opt the recent “Art Basel Banana” artwork to make light of their repeated use of tear gas against the city’s pro-democracy protesters.
On its official Twitter account, the police force posted a picture of a tear gas cartridge taped to the wall, in a mockery of the “Art Basel Banana” artwork, three editions of which sold last week for a staggering $120,000 to $150,000 each.
“For a Police officer, using force, including tear gas, is always the last resort,” the tweet read. “If rioters don’t use violence, Hong Kong will be safe and there’s no reason for us to use force. Say NO to violence. Let’s leave the tear gas cartridge on the wall forever.”
The tweet was immediately subject to widespread ridicule over the claim that Hong Kong police were using tear gas as a “last resort,” given that it has consistently been a security force’s weapon of choice since demonstrations broke out in June this year.
Many people responded to the post by sharing videos of the police using tear gas and other brutal methods against journalists and peaceful protesters.
Hong Kong Police: LeT’s LeAvE tHe TeAr GAs cArTRIdgE oN tHe WaLL fOrEvEr. #Bananaart
Also Hong Kong Police: pic.twitter.com/ZwlkaTFRpN
— #SOSHK Fight for Hong Kong (@Fight4HongKong) December 12, 2019
HongKong rioting police ain’t violent at all, and use “minimal” force as “first” resort
Credit to CBC 城大編委 pic.twitter.com/VgZGlCk8AO
— JC 😷 (@JC35878403) December 12, 2019
— T52FUNG😷 (@FungT52) December 12, 2019
According to official statistics, the police have fired nearly 16,000 rounds of tear gas and made more than 6,000 arrests as a result of the most violent and prolonged demonstrations seen in the region’s history.
Allegations of excessive police brutality have become an integral part of the demonstrations, with activists demanding a public investigation into crimes committed by the police and the release of all political prisoners.
With tear gas being the police’s preferred form of action, some protests have broken out merely in opposition to the use of such chemical weapons. Authorities have so far ignored these concerns, with one lawmaker even suggesting this week that it was more dangerous to hold a barbecue than inhaling the dioxins from tear gas.
Sometimes referred to as CS Gas, tear gas is generally used by security forces as a riot control method intended to be non-lethal. Yet according to the World Health Organization (WHO), tear gas remains a potent chemical weapon that can damage pregnancies and the reproductive system, weaken the immune system, and also increase the chances of contracting cancer.
The demonstrations originally started out in June as pushback against the government’s proposed extradition bill, championed by their unelected Beijing-controlled CEO Carrie Lam. The bill sought to allow those facing criminal charges to be extradited to the Chinese mainland, as Beijing continues to step up their interference in violation of the “One Country, Two Systems,” agreed by both sides following the handover from the British Empire.