22nd Citizen's Press Conference Press Release

22nd Citizen's Press Conference Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 1st November, 2019   

22nd CPC Press Release

‘Heroes’ Tears: A Humanitarian Crisis behind Masks’

In the Citizens’ Press Conference themed ‘Heroes’ Tears: A Humanitarian Crisis behind Masks’ today (1st November), spokespersons of the Citizens’ Press Conference were joined by guest speakers, including a PTSD sufferer who had experienced police violence and white terror within the healthcare system, and a representative from a grassroots support network, speaking out for circumstances in the continuing anti-extradition movement, which has resulted in a situation of chronic psychological stress becoming widespread in Hong Kong society. As many citizens approach a state of mental breakdown, a humanitarian crisis may be happening in Hong Kong. In view of this matter, spokespersons of the Citizens’ Press Conference hereby call for urgent attention from all stakeholders and the international community.

Mr. Chan, the spokesperson of Citizens’ Press Conference, presented findings from the study conducted by the Citizens’ Press Conference, from the period of 28th to 29th October regarding “The Mental Health of Protesters”. The study collected information regarding protesters showing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stressfulness. Results of the study revealed that over 30% of the respondents showed varying degrees of symptoms of PTSD. Of the 43,000 respondents, respectively, 16.4%, 26.7% and 7.7% have been demonstrating symptoms of depression, anxiety and stressfulness to degrees exceeding internationally recognised threshold levels, indicating an alarming situation. Moreover, a significant increase in the portion of respondents showing symptoms of depression and anxiety was observed, as compared to figures from a similar survey conducted in August. Mr. Chan also described the findings in the study measuring the degree of PTSD symptoms. Together with various studies conducted by other institutions, Mr. Chan concluded that the situation of Hongkongers’ mental well-being is in dire need of further attention from society and the international community.

Mr Chan further pointed out as most of the studies on mental status of individuals were based on scenarios of natural disaster or sentinel events, much fewer studies have been conducted regarding police brutality and arbitrary arrests. The findings of this study reveal that up to 35% of the respondents, that is, more than ⅓ of the respondents, have been showing significant PTSD symptoms, because of police brutality and arbitrary arrests happening in Hong Kong. Up to 55% of respondents demonstrated symptoms of stressfulness, as they have experienced or witnessed events of police brutality for twice or more. Mr Chan elaborated on the findings, which show that excessive violence perpetrated by the police verbally, physically and sexually, combined with arbitrary arrests inside civilian residencies, have not only caused severe disturbance to the daily lives of citizens, but also cause overwhelming stress and trauma. Such a situation is not the result of natural disaster or external factors, but the disastrous effect wrought by a regime pampering the police force with infinite expansion of statutory powers.

One of the guests is a victim of psychological trauma. After personally experiencing police brutality and white terror in the healthcare system, he started to suffer from emotional issues, even contemplating suicide. His experience of police brutality had also been causing distress in his daily life and social interactions. With incidents of hospitals and other authorities continuing to “betray” personal information to the police, he feels that public trust in the healthcare system has already collapsed, contributing to the emergence of civilian-organised volunteer clinics.

Our guests, Ms. Kwan and Mr. Tung, from a civilian support network, pointed out that the situation of blatantly unjust government and disproportionately violent law enforcement continues to worsen. This necessitates civilian-initiated support networks, gathering volunteer social workers with experience in search and rescue, providing emotional support and search and rescue services to citizens. According to Ms. Kwan, since July, their support network has processed over 500 cases, with 30% being cases of ‘immediate crises’. The demographics of victims in cases that they processed range from 14 to 50 years old. Ms. Kwan and Mr. Tung are saddened and angered by the regime’s apathy for the lives of their city’s civilians. They explained that the police has a duty to handle cases of missing persons, yet with numerous recent cases of suspected framed ‘suicide’, citizens have had to put their trust in civilian-initiated support networks instead, stating that the cases that their support group had processed is only the tip of an iceberg. They also warned that when the demands of citizens continue to be ignored, this creates an immense psychological burden for them, which may lead to a collective mental breakdown. In view of worsening police brutality, the two also urged protesters to seek emotional support when in need.

Citizens’ Press Conference spokesperson Mr. Chan presented a report on suspected cases of police brutality, put together by a civilian-initiated group of professionals from different sectors. The report details over 350 cases of suspected police abuse of power since June. The report states that since June, the police use of force has repeatedly violated guidelines on police use of force, including the refusal to present warrant card during duty and intentional obstruction of the press. However, due to the expansive statutory powers granted to police officers during duty, even if law enforcement officers demonstrate abuse of power or violations of law, civilians have little to no legal recourse. The report also expresses the view that the existing complaint mechanism is broken. To fundamentally solve this problem, the police force must be completely restructured from its core, with sufficient statutory power granted to checks and balances on the police force, of which must be established independently of the force itself. At the same time, Mr. Chan from the Citizens’ Press Conference encouraged the media and the press to conduct further investigations, hoping to bring sustained attention to police abuse of power and police brutality. Next, Mr. Chan presented a report about civilian-initiated volunteer medical services, which states that volunteer medical services, which comprises both Chinese and Western medicine practitioners, have already processed up to 6,000 cases.

Finally, Mr. Chan declared that what Hong Kong faces today is an atypical humanitarian crisis. Besides bodily wounds caused by police brutality, psychological trauma must also be addressed as a matter of urgency. As we witness Hong Kong descending from an international metropolis into a police state, Hongkongers are experiencing cognitive dissonance at the current state of Hong Kong. Faced with the Hong Kong Communist regime which only aims at ever more white terror and political suppression, Mr. Chan believes that Hongkongers must save themselves and continue to voice out, in order to gain more international support. He has a firm faith that the resilient Hong Kong people will continue to be water; there is no suppression that will murder Hongkongers’ determination with our five demands.