HONG KONG - Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Monday strongly condemned the violence that turned a shopping mall in Sha Tin into a war zone on Sunday, stressing that the city would not tolerate illegal acts that challenge the rule of law.
Lam said those rioters had recklessly attacked police officers and, in the mayhem, damaged the rule of law in Hong Kong
Her remarks came a day after a peaceful demonstration in Sha Tin against the now-suspended extradition bill turned into violent and bloody clashes between police and protesters in the densely populated town, leaving 28 people injured, including 13 police officers. One officer had part of his finger bitten off by a rioter.
Meeting the press after visiting the injured police officers in hospital, Lam said those rioters had recklessly attacked police officers and, in the mayhem, damaged the rule of law in Hong Kong.
The rule of law, she emphasized, is a cornerstone of Hong Kong’s prosperity and should be respected by all people of Hong Kong.
“I strongly condemn those who resorted to violence and attacked the police to express their objections. Hong Kong will not tolerate any unlawful or violent acts,” Lam said, while praising the professionalism of the police and reaffirmed her support for the force.
The Hong Kong leader said her administration will continue to support the police in enforcing the law, and to bring the offenders to justice.
On the same occasion, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu expressed his “strongest condemnation” against the Sha Tin violence, and thanked the police force for performing their duties and safeguarding the city’s law and order during these difficult times.
Lee noted that those protesters wearing masks and protective head gear were well-organized and their actions were planned. Such premeditated acts of violence could not be justified under any circumstances, he stressed.
If convicted, possession of offensive weapons in an assembly is punishable by jail terms of up to two years, while attacking police officers, as the Sha Tin rioters did with bricks, steel pipes and corrosive liquid, could be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung described the violence of some protesters as “heinous”, adding that some of them appeared to have “lost their minds” as they repeatedly kicked a fallen police officer.
Police have come under much criticism lately but have received little thanks for their efforts to maintain order, Lo noted.
In the Sha Tin riot, masked radical protesters threw bricks, umbrellas and bottles at police from the upper floors inside a shopping center when the police tried to disperse them.
Forty-seven protesters had been arrested, according to the police.
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