China says U.N. rights chief is fu­el­ing Hong Kong tur­moil

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - WORLD - By Eileen Ng

HONG KONG — China ac­cused the U.N. high com­mis­sioner for hu­man rights of em­bold­en­ing “rad­i­cal vi­o­lence” here by sug­gest­ing the city’s leader con­duct an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into re­ports of ex­ces­sive use of force by po­lice.

U.N. Com­mis­sioner Michelle Bachelet wrote in an opin­ion piece Satur­day in the South China Morn­ing Post that Hong Kong leader Car­rie Lam’s gov­ern­ment must pri­or­i­tize “mean­ing­ful, in­clu­sive” di­a­logue to re­solve the cri­sis.

She urged Lam to hold an “in­de­pen­dent and im­par­tial judge-led in­ves­ti­ga­tion” into po­lice con­duct of protests. It has been one of key de­mands of pro-democ­racy demon­stra­tions that have roiled the ter­ri­tory since June.

China’s U.N. mis­sion in Geneva said that Bachelet’s ar­ti­cle in­ter­feres in the in­ter­nal af­fairs of China and ex­erts pressure on the city’s gov­ern­ment and po­lice, which “will only em­bolden the ri­ot­ers to con­duct more se­vere rad­i­cal vi­o­lence.”

It said Bachelet made “in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­ments” on the sit­u­a­tion in Hong Kong and that the Chi­nese side had lodged a strong protest in re­sponse.

Since the un­rest broke, pro­test­ers have dis­rupted traf­fic, smashed pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties and proChina shops, and hurled gaso­line bombs in pitched bat­tles with riot po­lice who have re­sponded with vol­leys of tear gas and wa­ter can­nons.

The oc­cu­pa­tion of sev­eral uni­ver­si­ties by pro­test­ers ear­lier this month af­ter fiery clashes with po­lice capped one of the most vi­o­lent chap­ters in the tur­moil, which has con­trib­uted to the city’s first re­ces­sion in a decade.

Lam ap­pealed for the current calm to con­tinue but has re­fused to bow to pro­test­ers’ de­mands, which in­clude free elec­tions for her post and the leg­is­la­ture as well as an in­de­pen­dent probe into po­lice con­duct.

Hong Kong po­lice have ar­rested 5,890 people as a re­sult of the protests.

On Satur­day, hun­dreds of sil­ver­haired ac­tivists joined young pro­test­ers for a unity rally, vow­ing that their move­ment will not fade away un­til there is greater democ­racy.

The rally at a park down­town was among sev­eral peace­ful gath­er­ings by pro­test­ers last week to keep up pressure on the gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing a lo­cal elec­tion vic­tory by the pro-democ­racy bloc and the gain­ing of U.S. sup­port for their cause.

“The gov­ern­ment is still stub­born. Ev­ery one of us, young and old, must con­trib­ute in our own way. The move­ment will not stop,” said a 63-year-old woman who iden­ti­fied her­self as Mrs. Tam.

Some pro­test­ers re­turned to the streets Satur­day night, us­ing metal fences, car­tons and bricks to block traf­fic in the Mong Kok area in Kowloon.

Dozens had gathered there to mark three months since po­lice stormed a sub­way car in the area and hit pas­sen­gers with ba­tons and pep­per spray. Most left af­ter po­lice re­port­edly fired pep­per balls and is­sued warn­ings.

More ral­lies are planned to­day.

Ng Han Guan / As­so­ci­ated Press

Pro­test­ers raise their hand to sym­bol­ize the five de­mands of the pro-democ­racy move­ment. They were at a rally for young and el­derly pro-democ­racy demon­stra­tors Satur­day in Hong Kong.

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