A team of medical experts on Friday slammed the arrests of doctors, nurses and first-aiders who emerged from Polytechnic University on Sunday evening, saying they were carrying the proper identification but were still cuffed with zip-ties and made to “sit like terrorists”.
Surgeon Darren Mann – who was one of those helping treat injuries and provide care during violent clashes at the campus last week – called on new police commissioner Chris Tang to begin a dialogue to address the situation.
Teams of medical volunteers descended on the university last Sunday as police laid siege to the campus, inside of which were hundreds of anti-government protesters. The police declared it to be the scene of a riot, with those inside arrested for rioting, and called on those inside to leave.
However, some doctors, nurses and first-aiders were detained by police as they exited the university, with the police saying they had information that protesters were disguising themselves as medical workers.
Dr Arisina Ma, president of Hong Kong Public Doctors’ Association, said her colleagues would all have had relevant identification.
"The police force said that the reason why they need to arrest all the first-aiders or even the journalists on that night is because they need to check their identity," she said. "But all of my colleagues and their teams are registered nurses, doctors and their norm is to wear their identity card."
For example, if they are Hospital Authority staff, they would wear Hospital Authority ID, she said.
"So actually, they did show the police on this site who they are and what's their post. So the question for searching and for further investigation about their identity is not valid," said Ma.
She said even first aiders bring required documents and ID cards with them. "So the reason why the police still choose to arrest them, bring them to the police station… actually we cannot understand clearly," she said.
Ma said her colleagues who were arrested on November 17 had spent about 24 hours in the police station, but they were treated nicely. All of them were released on bail.
Mann, who had detailed his experience at PolyU in a letter to The Lancet medical journal, said police should not have treated medical professionals like terrorists.
"Doctors and nurses in Hong Kong are registered with their respective professional bodies – Medical Council of Hong Kong and the Nursing Council of Hong Kong. All doctors and nurses that day would be able to show their identity documents and their medical registration number, and for nurses, their nursing licence," he said.
Mann said police should have taken down those details, authenticated them before releasing the medical workers quickly.
"The priority should have been to get these life-saving individuals back into the community. Not to seem to make an example of them by cuffing them… and make them sit like terrorists," he said.
Last updated: 2019-11-22 HKT 19:56
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