The pan-democratic camp on Wednesday blasted the police for arresting lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting and a dozen others on riot charges, accusing the force of attempting to rewrite history as they painted a new picture of the shocking attacks at the Yuen Long MTR station on July 21 last year.
The police had held a combative press briefing earlier in the day to “clarify” what they declared was the “biased, twisted, misleading, and false information” circulating in the community over the attacks that left dozens injured.
A senior police superintendent, Chan Tin-chu, had said the depiction of the violence as an indiscriminate attack on commuters by a white-shirted mob was wrong, and the true picture was that two opposing groups had clashed, before police intervened to keep the peace.
Displaying a still taken from an RTHK video of two officers chatting with two white-shirted men, he said the media had given an incomplete and distorted picture by taking events out of context, "cutting this and that in a twisted depiction."
The officers, he said, were actually pushing the men away to prevent further clashes.
Even the timeline that the force itself had put forward last year – when it conceded that it took officers 39 minutes to arrive at the scene despite receiving thousands upon thousands of calls for help – was said to be incorrect.
Eighteen minutes is the new official response time – because officers had called for reinforcements at 10.57pm on that night, and the backup arrived at 11.15pm.
At a subsequent press conference, pan-democratic lawmakers were incredulous at the police’s new depiction of events, accusing the force of trying to whitewash history, while calling the arrests of the attack's 'victims' an affront to the people's conscience, and common sense.
Council Front lawmaker Claudia Mo said the police are trying to show that they believe they can now act with impunity.
“They just issued a political statement: ‘we are very correct. We are the law! If we think you are criminal we arrest you… We don’t need any particularly good reasons at all. We just do what we need to do and we can say what we want to say because we are the law.’ What sort of muddy, dire situation are you trying to land the whole Hong Kong into?” she questioned.
Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung said he’s now reconsidering whether he wants to stay in the legislature at all.
He said the government has effectively “declared war” on the people of Hong Kong, and communication may no longer be possible.
“I wanted to try my best to squeeze any room there is in this Legco to continue to help the needy. But I think it has gone far too much that I don’t know how I can face this government, who would try to rewrite anything as they wish and completely subdue themselves under the command of the mainland officials,” he said.
The opposition camp urged people to show their opposition to the arrests by wearing black on Thursday.
Police whitewashing history, pan-democrats say
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