Hong Kong protests: Boy and girl, both 13, released on bail after being arrested at anti-government demonstrations

Hong Kong protests: Boy and girl, both 13, released on bail after being arrested at anti-government demonstrations

The boy was arrested for possessing a laser pen and a can of spray paint, while the girl was detained for burning the Chinese flag

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Anti-government protesters burn the Chinese national flag in Tuen Mun.
Photo: SCMP/ Sam Tsang

A boy and girl, both 13, were released on bail on Sunday after being arrested on Saturday night in the 16th straight weekend of protests in Hong Kong.

The boy, identified by his surname Kong, was arrested in Tseung Kwan O for “possession of offensive weapons” after police found a laser pen and a can of spray paint on him, the force revealed on Sunday.

Separately, the girl was arrested in Tuen Mun for burning the Chinese flag.

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“It is hard to understand how the laser pens and spray paints are weapons, unless the police can see or have evidence of the boy using it to attack someone,” said Billy Li On-yin, the convenor of the Progressive Lawyers Group. “There is no sufficient indication to regard laser pens and spray paint as offensive weapons.”

Li said there were three possibilities where an object could be considered a weapon, including if something is a weapon by nature, such as a gun, or if something has been adapted into a weapon, such as a toothbrush with a sharpened handle. The third situation is where someone is found using an object to attack or attempt to attack another person, or if someone said they would use the object as a weapon.

He said the arrests of minors and adults was worrying not because of age, but rather because they appeared to be arbitrary.

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“Minors are less informed about their rights when they are under arrest, however, which makes the situation more concerning,” Li said.

Kong was arrested with another male suspect, 19, surnamed Chan. The latter was held over illegal assembly, police said. Officers were responding to a call about a fight on Tong Yin Street, Tseung Kwan O at about 11pm on Saturday, where some protesters had gathered. The two suspects had reportedly pointed lasers at police.

After the pair were taken away, residents surrounded the local police station, and officers later fired at least two rounds of sponge grenades, as well as pepper sprayed the crowd, according to media reports.

The crowd eventually left at about 2am on Sunday.

Social workers demand easier access to minors in detention

Since June 9, more than 30 young people, aged between 12 and 15, have been arrested by police for taking part in protests against the now-withdrawn extradition bill. Police have said they follow appropriate protocol when handling cases involving children or teens, but social workers have criticised the use of the Juvenile Court to punish protesters.
 
On August 31, three suspects aged between 13 and 15 were removed from their parents’ custody after police obtained a care and protection order from the Juvenile Court. The 15-year-old boy was eventually released and placed on curfew until his next court appearance on September 27.

 

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