18th June 2019 – (Hong Kong) Netizen recently released new shocking video footages of protestors stranded at Citic Tower, Tim Mei Avenue between 3.50pm and 4.15pm on 12th June. Police fired many rounds of tear gas while surrounding protestors outside the building. One of the protestors described his horrific experience when he was trapped outside the entrance of Citic Tower. He recalled that hundreds of protestors were cornered by riot police who continued to barged into the entrance of Citic Tower. Many rounds of tear gas were fired at close distance and one of the shots narrowly missed the protestor’s left leg.
Many have condemned the excessive use of force against the unarmed protestors. Tear gas is meant to be a non-lethal crowd dispersing agent. It is so viciously effective because, again, it’s not a gas; it’s a substance that binds and reacts to moisture. The aerosolized crystals glom on to the wet surfaces of a person’s eyes, mouth, skin, and breathing passages. The body’s defense mechanisms go into overdrive, trying to flush the chemicals away with tears and mucus. The pain and panic, combined with the body’s swift reaction, can incapacitate or disorient a victim.
According to sources, many protestors proceeded to the area near Government Building and attended the gathering organised by the Civil Human Rights Front before 3pm. Most of the students, youths and adults sat peacefully on the ground listening attentively to the speeches of leaders of Civil Human Rights Front who advocated for peaceful, rational, non-violent, non-foul demonstration.
After 3pm, a commotion was heard at the main entrance of Government Headquarters. Several casualties were suddenly seen carried into the area. Caught by surprise, the organisers immediately announced to the protestors to disperse immediately after tear gas rounds were fired. No prior warning was given by police and the crowd was sent into frenzy.
The only escape route was the main foyer of Citic Tower as police had surrounded the entire area near Government headquarters. Many stormed into the building and some were seen trying to break the main doors of the building with crowd control barriers. A few who were present at the scene reported that at least 9 rounds of tear gas were fired at the civilians.
Protestors were forced to retreat to the higher floors of the building. Staircase was jam-packed with civilians as the main entrance foyer on ground floor was completely crowded. The ventilation within the building began to be contaminated with tear gas, many protestors suffered breathing difficulties while some had asthma attacks despite wearing protective masks. Several protestors found another exit on 2nd floor which led to an overhead bridge linking to Admiralty Centre. Remaining protestors began to make their ways following the same route. The tear gas left the entire scene like a war zone.
No yellow or black flag signifying security warnings were issued by police officers and there was no intimidation by any protestor during the peaceful demonstrators. Many protestors questioned the justification of the tear gas shots fired by the police as the safety of civilians was being compromised.
Even though protestors retreated peacefully to Admiralty Centre from the overhead bridge, police allegedly continued to fire many rounds of tear gas at them. Many have condemned the brutality of the riot police on duty and demanded the police officers to be held accountable for the horrendous incident.