Hong Kong police battling pro-democracy activists for control of an underpass have sparked public anger after officers were seen kicking a handcuffed protester.
In the worst violence since street demonstrations for greater democracy began more than two weeks ago, officers armed with riot shields, batons and pepper spray knocked activists to the ground, dragged dozens away and tore down barricades protesters used as roadblocks around the underpass outside the government’s headquarters.
Outrage over their aggressive tactics exploded after local TV showed half a dozen officers taking the protester around a dark corner and kicking him on the ground. It is unclear what provoked the attack.
Local Now TV had shown footage of him splashing water on officers beforehand.
Pro-democracy politician Lee Cheuk-yan said: “Hong Kong police have gone insane today, carrying out their own punishment in private.
“Hong Kong’s values and its rule of law have been completely destroyed by police chiefs.”
Beijing, meanwhile, issued its harshest condemnations yet of the protests, calling them illegal, bad for business and against Hong Kong’s best interests.
The central government has become increasingly impatient with the demonstrations, the biggest challenge to Beijing’s authority since China took control of the former British colony in 1997. A front-page editorial in the People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s mouthpiece, condemned the protests and said “they are doomed to fail”.
“Facts and history tell us that radical and illegal acts that got their way only result in more severe illegal activities.”