With the public unrest in Hong Kong entering into its sixth month, the rioters’ extreme violent offenses have severely undermined the stability and prosperity in Hong Kong and imposed life-threatening danger to Hong Kong police and ordinary Hongkongers. Ironically, some Western media still refer to these rioters as “pro-democracy” protesters and raise questions about the police’s handling of the escalating violent riots.
Since last Sunday, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University has seen some of the most intense fighting so far between rioters and the police. The campus has been transformed into a battleground. Rioters threw thousands of firebombs and shot arrows at police in order to flee from the blockade while police officers responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.
The Hong Kong police said on Twitter that “the Police always hope for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflicts and appeal to the rioters to leave the PolyU in an orderly manner.”
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, also urged the protesters to “stop violence, give up their weapons, come out peacefully and take instructions from the police” during a press conference Tuesday.
In fact, the police made their arrests with discretion. Of the approximately 600 protesters that have left the campus so far, 200 are underage. Those who are 18 and above have been detained by the police on charges of illegal assembly.
As law enforcement officials, it is the Hong Kong police’s responsibility to maintain social order, and the police have always shown restraint in the face of armed rioters. During the standoff with rioters, a police truck was set on fire and a police officer was shot through the leg by an arrow. The police showed the humanitarian spirit, allowing Red Cross volunteers to enter the campus and treat the injured.
But a peaceful resolution won’t pardon the crimes of destroying campus facilities and attacking police with lethal weapons. The rioters are often described by some Western media as “trapped” or “besieged,” giving readers a false impression of victim. What held them from walking out of the campus is the fear of taking responsibility for the crimes they committed.
The Hong Kong police slogan is: “Serving Hong Kong with honor, duty and loyalty.” Over the past five months, the police have lived up to their commitment in every crisis that broke out: in the airport, on the streets, in the subways and on school campuses. Society needs to have faith in Hong Kong police and support them in doing their job. And no one should exempt himself from the rule of law.