An emotional livestreamed account from a young female student alleging sexual assault at the hands of the police sparked fresh anger and new protests in Hong Kong on Friday.
A video of Sonia Ng, who waived her anonymity to make the accusations during an open forum on Thursday night at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, went viral in the financial hub, prompting hundreds of office workers to stage a lunchtime rally against alleged police violence.
The Hong Kong police force, currently facing an enormous trust deficit with the public, said it had immediately launched an investigation on Friday morning and had tried unsuccessfully to reach the young woman, who had not yet made a formal complaint.
“The Police accord high priority to such a serious allegation and we appeal to the female to provide concrete evidence so that we can proceed with a fair fact-finding investigation,” the force said in a statement on its Facebook page.
Ms Ng told the packed university gathering, in the presence of Rocky Tuan, the vice-chancellor, that she had been arrested at the Prince Edward metro station, which was stormed by riot police on August 31.
She claimed she was sexually assaulted at a police station before being taken to San Uk Ling, a holding centre close to the border with mainland China where the pro-democracy movement alleges arrested protesters have been abused.
In an earlier testimony, which she gave anonymously at September rally, she accused a male officer of hitting her breast, reported the Hong Kong Free Press.
She alleged that detained protesters had been body-searched in darkened rooms and that others had also “suffered sexual violence.”
The young student then removed her mask to reveal her identity, asking Mr Tuan to explicitly denounce police violence.
“I am willing to be courageous and take off my mask, would you also be brave and support us?” she asked.
The vice-chancellor replied that he condemned all violence, but he faced a barrage of tough questions from students about the level of support the university had provided during four months of escalating tensions with the police during pro-democracy protests.
Ms Ng’s claims add to the mounting public anger over heavy-handed police tactics in the city, which has seen close to 3,000 arrests, and multiple injuries on both sides, including the shooting of two teenage boys.
Tony Tse, the vice-chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Council, asked people in need to come forward.
“We hope that those who were treated unfairly or sexually assaulted will make complaints to us. We will follow up,” he said in a radio show on Friday.