Law­mak­ers Urge US to Block Sales of Crowd-Con­trol Gear to Hong Kong

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Abi­par­ti­san group of US law­mak­ers on Fri­day urged the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion to suspend future sales of mu­ni­tions and crowd-con­trol equip­ment to Hong Kong Po­lice, which has been ac­cused of us­ing ex­ces­sive force against anti-gov­ern­ment pro­test­ers.

A Hong Kong democ­racy ac­tivist, Joshua Wong, last week tweeted pic­tures of tear­gas shells and rub­ber bul­lets he said were used by po­lice against pro­test­ers. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Christo­pher Smith and James McGovern, chairs of a con­gres­sional hu­man rights com­mis­sion, made their re­quest in a let­ter to Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo and Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross.

“We ask that you suspend future sales of mu­ni­tions and crowd and riot con­trol equip­ment to the Hong Kong Po­lice Force and pub­licly an­nounce that the US will not con­trib­ute to the in­ter­nal re­pres­sion of peace­ful protest in Hong Kong,” they wrote.

They also urged the sec­re­taries to push back “against the Hong Kong and Chi­nese govern­ments’ ef­forts to char­ac­terise the demon­stra­tions as ‘ri­ots’ and to blame the US for po­lit­i­cal instabilit­y which they alone

cre­ated.”

The State Depart­ment and the Com­merce Depart­ment did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

“All these weapons are im­ported from the United States. Given the in­nu­mer­able proof of Po­lice bru­tal­ity in re­cent protests, all coun­tries should call a halt to the sale of arms to the no­to­ri­ous Hong Kong Po­lice,” Mr Wong said on Twit­ter. Thou­sands of civil ser­vants joined in the anti-gov­ern­ment protests in Hong Kong on Fri­day for the first time since they started two months ago, de­fy­ing a warn­ing from the au­thor­i­ties to re­main po­lit­i­cally neu­tral.

Protests against a pro­posed bill that would al­low peo­ple to be ex­tra­dited to stand trial in main­land China have grown in­creas­ingly vi­o­lent, with Po­lice ac­cused of ex­ces­sive use of force and fail­ing to pro­tect pro­test­ers from sus­pected gang at­tacks.

The hu­man rights com­mis­sion is com­posed of more than 40 mem­bers of the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Smith is Repub­li­can and McGovern a Demo­crat.

Hong Kong protest or­gan­is­ers said 1.03 mil­lion marched yes­ter­day. By their es­ti­mate, this was the largest protest HK has ever seen, even more so than a 1989 protest in sup­port of Tianan­men stu­dents. The Po­lice said ear­lier yes­ter­day 150,000 gath­ered at the start­ing point.

A Po­lice of­fi­cer fires tear gas dur­ing clashes with pro­test­ers in Hong Kong on July 31, 2019.

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