A report in the South China Morning Post Monday claimed that the Hong Kong police in cracking down on demonstrations are grabbing innocent bystanders and arresting them without due process.

The report notes that the police are accusing people who are there to document the events, or even just observing, of participating in “unlawful assemblies.”

The Post notes that in some cases people are being imprisoned for days without being granted legal counsel:

Among those affected was former marine police officer and retired pilot Jan Bochenski, 62, who was arrested earlier this month for joining an “unlawful assembly” in Sai Wan, his own neighbourhood.

He said he spent 30 hours in custody and had to wait for four hours to phone his wife and another four hours before he could speak to his lawyer despite multiple requests to officers.

Bochenski says that police were acting like a curfew had been imposed, regardless of the fact that no order was ever given:

“There were young people, a pizza delivery boy, an Indian chef in his uniform, a mother and her son – normal people you see on a Sunday night walking down this area … there is no curfew, how can it be an unlawful assembly?” Bochenski said, adding that he was taken away after officers confirmed he was not a tourist.

He was then left standing for hours in a cell shared with 14 other detainees in Cheung Sha Wan Police Station. Bochenski, who said he was the first of those held to ask to make a phone call to his family and a lawyer, was only able to meet his lawyer at 4.30am. He said the lawyer had been sitting in the station waiting for hours. His other request to speak to the British consulate was ignored.

Several lawyers recalled similar experiences and said officers appeared reluctant to cooperate in some cases.

Further accounts from people on the ground have suggested that police are cracking down on journalists, including Americans, taking photos of the events.

Hong Kong police have claimed that protesters are causing violence, and that officers are showing restraint.

“I must emphasize the officers demonstrated great restraint. Their use of force was indeed necessary and reasonable. It was to protect any person, including our officers themselves, from death or serious bodily injury,” said Assistant Commissioner of Police Operations Mak Chin Ho on Monday.


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