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Hong Kong student protest leader says police struck him repeatedly

Hong Kong student protest leader Joshua Wong. (AP/Vincent Yu)
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BEIJING – Eighteen-year-old Hong Kong student leader Joshua Wong said on Thursday he had been hit several times by police during his arrest at pro-democracy protests the previous day, taking aim below the belt at his private parts.

Wong was arrested Wednesday as police cleared barricades in the Mong Kok district, and has been charged with obstructing court-appointed bailiffs who had been tasked with clearing the streets.

This dramatic video shows how a police officer rushed into the crowd of protesters and hauled Wong out (39 seconds in). It also shows the arrest of fellow student leader Lester Shum, 21, who is seen with his arms bound behind his back (from 1 minute, 38 seconds on).

“We didn’t have any physical conflict with bailiffs and workers, we just asked questions," Wong told reporters outside the courthouse, after being released on bail Thursday. "I was hurt during my arrest on my face and neck, also repeatedly, six or seven times, my private parts were hurt.”

“Why do police even want to hurt my private parts?" he said, adding that he had also been insulted by police officers while in custody. Eggs were thrown at Wong outside the courtroom by two men, but missed.

The protests have deepened divisions in Hong Kong, as we reported earlier this month, while those taking parts in the demonstrations have been denied entry to mainland China.

Wong and Shum were banned from a large area of Mong Lok as a condition of their release on bail on Thursday.

Police spokesman Steve Hui rejected accusations that police had used unnecessary force in clearing the streets this week, arguing that “repeated appeals and warnings” had been given before action was taken, but protesters had refused to vacate the area.

More than 100 protesters have been arrested in two days of scuffles and confrontations in Mong Kok. Police said 20 of their officers had been hurt, while an unknown number of protesters went to hospital with head injuries after being hit by police batons, local media reported.

Late on Wednesday, police said seven officers had been arrested for “assault” in connection with the beating of a pro-democracy protester last month. The officers had been caught on camera taking handcuffed protester Ken Tsang to a secluded spot at night, and then repeatedly kicking and punching him as he lay on the ground.

“Police reiterate that if any Force member commits illegal acts, Police will handle this seriously and investigation will be conducted in a fair and impartial manner,” the police said in a statement.

Wong rose to prominence as a teenage boy helping to lead the Scholarism movement, in which schoolchildren successfully protested against government plans to introduce a program of "patriotic" education that critics labelled pro-Communist Party brainwashing. He has since become the most prominent face of the pro-democracy protests, calling for free and fair elections for the territory's chief executive in 2017.