A Hong Kong student claims she was sexually assaulted by a police officer after being arrested during pro-democracy protests in the embattled city-state, adding that she wasn't the only one.
While Hong Kong police have said they will investigate, they've also warned the student that she and her parents could be arrested for making false accusations.
Sonia Ng, a student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), made the accusation during a public meeting with the university’s vice-chancellor Rocky Tuan, claiming the incident occurred at the San Uk Ling holding center after she was arrested on Aug. 31.
“Do you know that when we get arrested, police will take away and switch off our phones, swear at us, force us to go wherever they like, enter dark rooms, remove our clothes?” she told the 1,400 people who attended the public forum.
“Do you know the body-search room in San Uk Ling is all dark? Do you know I am not the only one who suffered sexual violence by the police? Other arrestees have suffered sexual assaults and torture by more than one officer, regardless of gender,” Ng said.
In a radio interview Friday, Ng clarified that the attack she referenced took place at Kwai Chung Police Station, not the holding center, but she said she was told there were also sexual assaults at the center.
This isn't the first time Hong Kong’s police have been accused of acting illegally toward protesters. An Amnesty International report last month claimed the police were assaulting and beating protesters in custody, acts that amounted to torture.
Hong Kong police responded to the claims late Thursday night, saying they would investigate.
“Police accord high priority to such a serious allegation,” the force stated, adding: “We will proactively contact the [woman] and appeal to her to provide concrete evidence so that we can launch a fair fact-finding investigation as soon as possible.”
But Ng said Friday she found the police statement ominous.
“I felt that the police statement was threatening me,” she said. “They said they would contact me directly. Does it mean that they can catch me again and [detain me] for another 48 hours?”
Ng said she had received phone calls from mainland Chinese numbers after the police statement, something that had not happened before.
Ng’s worries would have have been compounded by comments made by Police Deputy Commissioner Tang Ping Keung on Friday claiming Ng could be arrested for slander along with her family.
“This is a groundless accusation which could lead to criminal charges. Her parents could also be charged for aiding and abetting."
Cover: Protesters march with face mask during a flash mob protest in Hong Kong, on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. Hundreds of masked protesters gathered at Chater Garden in central Hong Kong on Friday to rally against police brutality and show their support for students who have been arrested during the ongoing anti-government demonstrations. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)