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French water cannon. Screenshot from YouTube

Water cannons deployed in Hong Kong come from… France

On Sunday, on August 25, for the first time the Hong Kong government authorised the use of water cannons to disperse the demonstrations.

Published: August 27, 2019, 10:50 am

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    Hong Kong

    As the conflict and tensions in Hong Kong persist, the country’s government for the first time authorised the Hong Kong police to disperse protesters by means of water cannons.

    Yet, it is an act very rarely used in the country because according to Amnesty International, these are “powerful weapons that are non-discriminating in nature and can cause serious injury or even death”. This equipment can knock over a person, push them into static elements, cause a permanent loss of vision or hit unsecured objects that become real projectiles.

    But in France, water cannons are very often used. Moreover, as reported by CNews, those used in Hong Kong were sold by a French company and delivered in 2018. They were manufactured by the company Sides.

    As CheckNews revealed in June 2019, three anti-riot trucks were bought from the company in Brittany by an Asian country for one million euros. For their part, the Hong Kong media spoke of a contract to two million euros. Frédéric Louis, the CEO of Armoric Holding, Sides’ parent company, confirmed that he had sent three anti-riot vehicles with water launchers to the former British colony. The order had been placed in 2016.

    Regarding the price differential that has since doubled, the CEO explained that it may be because his company first sold the vehicles to a distributor, who then sold them to the Hong Kong police. It remains to be seen whether the use of these water cannons was exceptional on 25 August, and if the police will continue to use them to try to weaken the protest against Beijing.

    It has been the twelfth weekend of demonstrations in Hong Kong. And the local authorities have obviously decided to raise the tone in the face of the unending riots. On Sunday, August 25, they used tear gas and water cannons against protesters for the first time, reported FranceInfo.

    And in the evening, a police officer even used his firearm to fire a warning shot.

    Until now, the police had indicated that they wanted to use water cannons only in case of a “large-scale disruption of public order”. This type of law enforcement tool has never been used in the former British colony before.

    According to the police: “Extremely violent demonstrators have deviated from the initial route, obstructing roads, vandalizing shops and tunnels, throwing petrol bombs, bricks and various projectiles at the police.” The local police issued a communiqué on the state of the riots on Monday.

    For three months now, protesters have been opposing an extradition bill that allows for the transfer of suspects to mainland China. They claim to be defending the agreement of “one country, two systems”, set up in 1997 during the handover of Hong Kong to China. The concept allows this semi-autonomous territory to retain freedoms that are not present in mainland China, and to have a separate judicial and political system.

    Miles Kwok aka Guo Wengui is a disgruntled Chinese oligarch, and is one of the funders of the Hong Kong protests. He has appeared with Steve Bannon explaining the five principles of disrupting Hong Kong. Joshua Wong, one of the leaders, even compared the situation with 2014 Maidan riots in Ukraine.

    Frontline protesters have released a new guide to confrontation and war strategies with riot police shared in their own Telegram chat. A total of 3 info graphs have been created so that frontline protesters can engage in conflict more efficiently.

    From the info graphs it is obvious that frontline protesters were trained properly during guerrilla attacks against riot police, suggesting that the protests are not at all spontaneous.

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