POLICE pepper-sprayed about 10 protesters demonstrating on Sunday against the construction of the Hong Kong section of the Express Rail Link (廣深港高速鐵路香港段).
Four men aged 19 to 29 were arrested. The teenager was held for assaulting officers and the others for illegal assembly, police said.
The confrontation broke out on the eve of a special Legislative Council (立法會) railway subcommittee meeting over the construction delay on the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong link.
About 150 anti-Express Rail Link activists from nearly 20 youth, community and political groups – including the League of Social Democrats (社會民主連線) and the youth group Age of Resistance (青年重奪未來) – left Central’s Chater Garden (中環遮打花園) for the Tamar government headquarters (添馬艦新政府總部). The violence broke out after the protesters demanded to walk on Harcourt Road (夏慤道) in Admiralty (金鐘) instead of a pedestrian bridge to the government headquarters.
Organisers claimed it was hard for the demonstrators to carry petition material over the bridge.
They included a giant paper ‘white elephant’ mocking the government’s waste of taxpayers’ money in building the link.
Police allowed several protesters to walk on Harcourt Road and directed the rest to walk over the bridge.
But some broke through the police barricade and tried to run along Harcourt Road, disrupting traffic.
Six police officers used pepper spray on the protesters 11 times.
A policeman was injured as officers were hit on their arms by wooden drumsticks held by protesters and liquid was thrown in their faces. A member of Age of Resistance criticised the police for ignoring protesters’ requests to walk on Harcourt Road.
But the deputy district commander in Central, Chan Yee-lai (陳綺麗), said the police used the pepper spray after the protesters ignored the police warning not to break through the police barricade.
About 10 protesters, including lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung (梁國雄) of the League of Social Democrats, had to wash their eyes with water after being sprayed.
Transport Secretary Anthony Cheung Bing-leung (張炳良) has been accused of covering up the delay in completing the Express Rail Link.