At least 12 people have been arrested in the first wave of detentions linked to anti-government protests in Hong Kong that led to the storming and vandalising of the city’s parliament.
At least 11 men and one woman were arrested on suspicion of trying to disrupt celebrations marking the 22nd anniversary of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule on Monday.
On Thursday police said they have been been charged with offences that range from “possession of offensive weapons, unlawful assembly, assaulting a police officer, obstructing a police officer, offence against air navigation ( HK) order 1995 and failing to carry identity document”. The oldest was 31 and the youngest was just 14.
For the past month, protesters have been demanding the withdrawal of a bill that would allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland as anger has grown against Hong Kong authorities and morphed into a wider political crisis.
The occupation of the legislature on Monday night coincided with a massive peaceful protest in which organisers say more than half a million people marched through the city on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s 1997 return to Chinese rule.
Officers on Wednesday had gathered debris from the legislature as evidence, showing pictures of bricks, metal bars and shields stacked neatly outside the damaged legislature on their Facebook page on Wednesday.
“Police will certainly follow up and bring the culprits to justice for any unlawful acts,” the force said in a statement.
Police also arrested a 31-year-old man for assaulting police, criminal damage, forcible entry and disorderly conduct in a public place for his role on 1 July and and an earlier protest in June when thousands of demonstrators had gathered around police headquarters to voice concerns over police violence.
On 12 June, police fired 150 rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets at a mostly peaceful crowd.
Another eight people were arrested earlier on Wednesday for releasing personal information of police officer’s online, including phone numbers and addresses. Officers were harassed with late night phone calls and threatening text messages.
Meanwhile, police also arrested people at a rally in support of police on 30 June.
Five men and one woman were arrested for possessing offensive weapons, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, common assault and fighting in a public place.
On Thursday, Chinese state media blamed meddling by Western governments for unrest in Hong Kong amid an escalating diplomatic spat between China and the United Kingdom the protests.
“Ideologues in Western governments never cease in their efforts to engineer unrest against governments that are not to their liking, even though their actions have caused misery and chaos in country after country in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia,” the official China Daily said in an editorial.