Hong Kong police vow to pursue HQ siege protesters

Updated 22 June 2019
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Hong Kong police vow to pursue HQ siege protesters

  • Hong Kong has been rocked by the worst political unrest since its 1997 handover to China
  • Millions have marched this month to oppose a hugely unpopular proposed law that would have allowed extraditions to the Chinese mainland

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police on Saturday vowed to pursue the ringleaders of a 15-hour blockade of their headquarters which involved thousands of anti-government demonstrators as a push to oust the city’s pro-Beijing leader evolves.
The largely young protesters surrounded the headquarters throughout Friday and into the small hours of Saturday morning, the latest manifestation of angry demonstrations sweeping Hong Kong.
The international finance hub has been rocked by the worst political unrest since its 1997 handover to China.
Millions have marched this month to oppose a hugely unpopular proposed law that would have allowed extraditions to the Chinese mainland.
Officers also used tear gas and rubber bullets last week to clear protesters during another massive demonstration outside the city’s parliament, fanning widespread anger at the police.
The spark for the current wave of protests was an attempt by chief executive Carrie Lam to pass the Beijing-backed extradition law, which she has now postponed following the huge public backlash.
But the demonstrations have morphed into a wider movement against Lam’s administration and Beijing after years of sliding political freedoms.
Protest leaders plan to hold another huge rally on July 1 but student-led groups — communicating through encrypted messaging apps — have begun embracing spontaneous, fast-moving acts of civil disobedience.
“We need to flow like water,” one protester called Chris told AFP, espousing a famous philosophy from martial arts superstar and Hong Kong legend Bruce Lee.
It was unclear if demonstrators would rally in large numbers for a third weekend, with the streets quiet and popular protest sites nearly devoid of people on Saturday morning.
Eric, a 22-year-old office worker and protester, said he would wait to see what directions came through on social media in the coming days.
“There are many camps and each person has their own way of resistance,” he told AFP.
During Friday’s demonstrations outside police headquarters, large crowds of protesters blockaded entrances, taped over CCTV cameras and shouted at police.
Many chanted “release the righteous” and “shame on police thugs” — references to those detained during violence last week between demonstrators and the police.
Opposition groups have demanded an investigation into allegations of police brutality and the release of those detained during the clashes.
Officers remained inside their fortified building throughout Friday.
The protest was noisy but peaceful — with the exception of thrown eggs and demonstrators shining laser pens at the windows.
The crowds eventually dispersed in the early hours of Saturday some 15 hours after their demonstration began.
In a statement Saturday morning, police called the protest “illegal, irrational and unreasonable” saying it would “stringently follow up” on those behind the blockade.
Police have defended using tear gas and rubber bullets on June 12 as a necessary and proportionate response to meet violent protesters who were trying to break into the city’s parliament.
But rights group Amnesty International said Friday it had verified multiple instances of police violence that breached international laws while influential legal bodies in Hong Kong have backed an inquiry into police tactics.

Although Hong Kong was returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, it is still administered separately under an arrangement known as “one country, two systems.”
The city enjoys freedoms unseen on the mainland but many residents have been alarmed in recent years by what they feel is a tighter grip by Beijing.
Hong Kong’s leaders are not elected and calls for universal suffrage have fallen on deaf ears.
In 2014, pro-democracy protesters seized key intersections for two months but failed to win any concessions from Beijing.
Since then, many of that movement’s leaders have been jailed while some Beijing critics have found themselves banned from politics or even disappearing into Chinese custody.
Opposition to the extradition bill managed to unite a wide cross section of Hong Kong.
Critics feared the law would ensnare both Hong Kongers and foreigners in mainland China’s opaque and politicized justice system, and also give Beijing a tool to target critics based in the semi-autonomous territory.


Dutch court cuts state’s liability for Srebrenica deaths

In this Wednesday, March 20, 2019 file photo, a woman prays at the Potocari memorial center for victims of the Srebrenica genocide, in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (AP)
Updated 11 min 36 sec ago
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Dutch court cuts state’s liability for Srebrenica deaths

  • The 350 were among the almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the genocide at Srebrenica, the worst massacre in Europe since World War II

THE HAGUE: The Dutch Supreme Court on Friday slashed the state’s liability for 350 victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, saying peacekeepers had only a “slim” chance of preventing their deaths.
The 350 men were among 5,000 terrified residents who had sought safety in the Dutch peacekeepers’ base when the besieged Muslim enclave was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.
The lightly armed Dutch troops eventually became overwhelmed and shut the gates to new arrivals before allowing Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladic to evacuate the refugees.
The men and boys were separated and taken in buses to their deaths, their bodies dumped in mass graves.
Judges, however, on Friday reduced from 30 percent to 10 percent the Dutch state’s responsibility for compensation to the families in a case brought by the Mothers of Srebrenica victims’ organization.
The 350 were among the almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the genocide at Srebrenica, the worst massacre in Europe since World War II and the darkest episode in the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
“The Dutch State bears very limited liability in the ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’ case,” the Supreme Court said. “That liability is limited to 10 percent of the damages suffered by the surviving relatives of approximately 350 victims.”

After the ruling, Mothers’ president Munira Subasic, who lost family members including her son, husband and father in the massacre, expressed disappointment.
“Today we experienced humiliation upon humiliation. We could not even hear the judgment in our own language because we were not given a translator,” she told AFP.
At Srebrenica “every life was taken away 100 percent. There is little we can do with 10 percent, but yes, the responsibility still lies where it does.”
“I only have two bones. I have found less than 10 percent of his body,” she added, referring to her teenage son.
The Dutch government accepted responsibility, saying it was relieved that “finally there was some clarity.”
A Dutch court originally held the state liable for compensation in 2014. In 2017 the appeals court upheld that decision before it was referred to the Supreme Court.
The lower court had said in 2017 that the Dutch actions meant the Muslims were “denied a 30 percent chance of avoiding abuse and execution,” and thus the Dutch state was liable for 30 percent of damages owed to families.
The Supreme Court agreed that “the state did act wrongfully in relation to the evacuation of the 5,000 refugees” in the compound, including 350 Muslim men the Bosnian Serbs were unaware of.
It said the Dutch peacekeepers “failed to offer these 350 male refugees the choice to stay where they were, even though that would have been possible.”
But explaining the decision to reduce the liability, the Supreme Court said that “the chance that the male refugees would have escaped the Bosnian Serbs had they been given the choice to stay was slim, but not negligible.”
Reacting to the ruling, Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld said in a statement the cabinet would “examine how to best implement the liability for damages suffered by the relatives in such a way it does justice to the Supreme Court ruling.”

In a swipe at the failure of other foreign powers to act during the 1995 crisis, the top court added that the “chance of Dutchbat (the Dutch UN mission) receiving effective support from the international community was slim.”
Former Dutchbat soldiers attending the case said they were disappointed on behalf of the victims’ families.
“I think the final judgment is a bit disappointing, especially when you see the court ruling of 30 percent and now it’s downgraded to 10 percent,” said Remko de Bruijne, a former Dutch blue helmet who served at Srebrenica.
“I think that’s not fair for the Mothers of Srebrenica but, on the other hand, now it’s clear,” he told AFP.
Srebrenica has cast a long shadow over The Netherlands, forcing a the government to resign in 2002 after a scathing report on the role of politicians in the episode.
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is currently serving a life sentence in jail in The Hague after being convicted of genocide over Srebrenica and war crimes throughout the 1990s.
Ex-military chief Mladic, 76, dubbed the “Butcher of Bosnia,” is currently appealing a life sentence on similar charges at an international tribunal in The Hague.
Slobodan Milosevic, Karadzic’s long-time patron during the war, was on trial in The Hague at the time of his death in 2006.