Hong Kong’s rail operator has come under increasing pressure to release CCTV footage of Prince Edward MTR station from the night of August 31, when riot police stormed the platform and trains using pepper spray and batons.
On Friday, a growing crowd of people joined a sit-in outside the station’s control room, saying they would not leave until the footage was released. Some wore placards that read: “We have the right to know the truth.”
Pro-democracy camp convenor Claudia Mo previously wrote to the chairperson of the MTR Corporation, asking that the surveillance footage of Prince Edward, Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei stations from August 31 be made public.
“On the night of August 31, Hong Kong police attacked passengers indiscriminately on the platform of Prince Edward station. Multiple people were bleeding or lost consciousness after being beaten. MTRC announced that it would close Prince Edward and Mong Kok stations, and both were only reopened on September 2,” she wrote.
“MTRC’s actions have caused great panic, leading the public to question whether it helped the police to cover up injuries or casualties… the CCTV footage is the only way to reconstruct the truth.”
The footage also became the topic of heated discussion on social media, with some users on the Reddit-like LIHKG forum claiming that the records will be erased after a week.
Responding to media inquiries, the MTRC said on Friday that the relevant footage from Prince Edward station will be kept for three years.
A company representative told lawmaker Mo via WhatsApp: “Generally speaking, CCTV footage would be kept for 28 days according to our established rules and procedures. Only authorised persons may view them. In any event, many CCTVs have been damaged earlier on that night.”
Mo added that she was told the MTRC would turn over its surveillance footage if there was a court order to do so. In the meantime, lawmakers were not allowed to watch it because they do not fall under the category of “authorised persons.”
As of Friday 1:30pm, more than two dozen people – including some not dressed in protest gear – have started a spontaneous sit-in in front of the Prince Edward MTR station control room. Some chanted popular protest slogans.
“Why should we kneel for MTR? We didn’t do anything wrong. MTR should be the ones kneeling before us,” one shouted.
MTR station staff tried to reassure the protesters that their demands were heard, but left after the crowd booed them.
Lawmaker Fernando Cheung said he had received assurances that the CCTV footage would typically be kept for 28 days. Cheung said he was trying to get legal advice to see if there were public interest grounds for lawmakers to see the footage.
Rail stations besieged
Hong Kong’s rail operator has become a focus of public outcry after August 31, when elite officers stormed the platform and train carriages at Prince Edward station and beat people with batons.
Netizens have circulated an unverified rumour that there were deaths during the police operation, though the allegation has been denied by both the Hong Kong government and the force.
On Thursday night, the Mong Kok police station – which is next to the Prince Edward MTR station – was targeted again by protesters for the fifth consecutive day. Riot police dispersed the crowd outside the station before 1am.
Crowds also gathered at Hang Hau MTR station and were also dispersed by riot police on Thursday night.
Separately, some secondary school students held a “human chain” event outside the Tai Po Hui MTR station at around 7pm on Thursday. The event ended peacefully without police intervention.
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