A group of pro-democracy district councillors in Hong Kong who claimed unidentified guards in black harassed them and stopped them attending a council meeting filed a report with police on Monday, saying they were illegally blocked from doing their jobs.
They urged officers to investigate fully the drama last week when a group of 10 pan-democrat Eastern district councillors and some activists from Demosisto – including Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Agnes Chow Ting – were blocked from entering the meeting venue.
The government said in response that the council had arranged for security guards to work at the venue, but did not say whether they were the same people who barred the pro-democracy group.
Police said Eastern district crime squad would investigate.
The councillors and activists went to the meeting in Sai Wan Ho on January 30 to ask why Chow had been barred from the Legislative Council by-election in March. The returning officer who rejected Chow’s candidacy, Anne Teng, is also an Eastern district officer and was set to attend the meeting.
The protesters arrived before the meeting started but found four guards dressed in black – not uniforms – blocking their way, leading to a stand-off.
Watch: Activists try to enter district council meeting
The guards reportedly did not identify themselves or show any work passes. After the crowd dispersed, one of them told reporters they were security guards.
Teng did not attend the meeting.
Seven of the pan-democrat councillors who filed the police report at North Point Police Station on Monday said the guards may have broken the law by stopping them from doing their duty as councillors.
The maximum penalty for obstructing a public officer from executing their duty is a fine of HK$1,000 and six months in prison.
On Monday, the councillors staged a brief rally outside the police station, condemning what they called “illegal obstruction”. Only two of the councillors gave statements to police, on behalf of the group.
One of the councillors, Joseph Lai Chi-keong of the Civic Party, said: “We are not making a fuss. It is a serious matter and could have a criminal element.
“We have been waiting for an explanation from the district office or district council. But so far, there has been none. So, we are seeking help from police.”
Following the stand-off at the meeting, council chairman Wong Kin-pan adjourned the session as there were not enough members present.
The pan-democrat councillors said Wong’s decision to adjourn was “ridiculous” as they were right outside the meeting room, being blocked from entering.
A Home Affairs Department spokesman said on Monday that members of the public have to register in advance to observe a district council meeting. Without specifying whether the council’s security guards may have been the black-clad figures complained about, he said a fracas broke out with the activists and the councillors had just got caught up in it.
“Security guards were arranged by the Eastern district office to help maintain order to ensure the January 30 meeting of the Eastern district council would be conducted smoothly,” he said.
“There were some people who had not registered entering the building, and attempting to force [their way] into the district council meeting room using other people’s passes.
“Security guards were there to maintain order to prevent them entering the meeting room. Because of the confusion, some Eastern district councillors were also unable to enter the meeting room.”