The quick use of pepper spray and arrests by Hong Kong police during pro-democracy demonstrations last night and today has renewed fears the authorities will fail to uphold the rights to peaceful assembly and free expression at larger protests planned for next week, Amnesty International said.
On Friday night, a week-long sit-in by thousands of students culminated in a group of protesters entering the fenced-off Civic Square in front of the local government’s headquarters, while thousands continued to demonstrate outside.
The police reacted by using pepper spray inside and outside of the square and carrying out arrests. Around 70 people remained boxed-in by police in the square overnight and were arrested on Saturday afternoon.
"The police response to events on Friday night is a disturbing sign that the Hong Kong authorities will take a tough stance against any peaceful protest blocking the financial district," said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.