Hong Kong court bans disclosure of police details to halt harassment

In a photo taken on Oct 13, 2019, riot police officers remove a barricade set up by anti-government protesters during a gathering in Tsuen Wan, near the site where police shot a protester with live ammunition on China's National Day in Hong Kong.
In a photo taken on Oct 13, 2019, riot police officers remove a barricade set up by anti-government protesters during a gathering in Tsuen Wan, near the site where police shot a protester with live ammunition on China's National Day in Hong Kong.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Hong Kong's High Court on Friday (Oct 25) banned people from disclosing personal information about the police and their families, widely targeted in anti-government protests that have gripped the Chinese-ruled city for months.

Activists have attacked police with petrol bombs, rocks and lasers shone in their eyes, furious at social media footage of random beatings, especially one against protesters cowering on the floor of a subway train.

One officer this month was slashed in the neck with a knife.

Police have responded to the violence with tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets and occasional live rounds, wounding several.

Protesters are angry about what they see as creeping Chinese interference in Hong Kong, which Britain returned to China in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula intended to guarantee freedoms that are not enjoyed on the mainland.

China denies meddling. It has accused foreign governments, including the United States and Britain, of inciting the unrest.

The police and justice secretary applied for a ban on disclosing names, addresses, e-mail addresses, telephone numbers and other details, including children's school addresses. The court agreed to an injunction which media said would last until Nov 8.

Police said in August more than 1,600 officers and their family members had been victimised by doxxing.

"They also suffered all sorts of harassment, including nuisance calls, verbal intimidation and even death threats," police public relations branch Chief Superintendent Tse Chun Chung said at the time.

 
 
 
 

"Some people misused our officers' personal data to apply for loans."

The rallying cry of the protest movement is "five demands, not one less", including universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into perceived police brutality, which leader Carrie Lam has refused to grant.

Hong Kong is now in its fifth month of protests, which have plunged it into its biggest political crisis in decades and taken a heavy toll on the economy.

A rally dubbed "Medical Workers Resisting Tyranny" is planned at Chater Garden in the heart of the financial centre on Saturday, with another protest "Fight Against Police Brutality, Stand with Muslims, Citizens and Journalists", due to take place on Sunday across the harbour in Kowloon district.

A police water cannon truck shot bursts of blue-dyed water at a small clutch of people on the footpath outside a mosque during protests in Kowloon on Sunday, hitting its gate and steps, drawing criticism from some in the Muslim community.

Police issued a statement saying the incident was "most unfortunate" and unintended, while senior officers went to meet Muslim leaders to offer apologies.

US Vice-President Mike Pence on Thursday accused China of curtailing "rights and liberties" in Hong Kong and blasted US company Nike and the National Basketball Association for falling in line with Beijing in a disagreement over free speech.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying denounced Mr Pence's comments and said the United States should reflect on its own domestic issues, like gun violence.