October 5, 2019 / 9:45 AM / 15 days ago

U.N. calls for probe into violence related to Hong Kong protests

Anti-government protesters march in a protest in central Hong Kong, China October 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The United Nations human rights chief called on Saturday for an independent probe into the violence during anti-government protests in Hong Kong, saying the injuries were alarming.

Two teenage protesters were shot while a journalist was permanently blinded in one eye in the past week during the worst outbreak of violence after four months of unrest in the Chinese-ruled city.

“We are troubled by the high levels of violence associated with some demonstrations... and also alarmed by the injuries to the police and protesters, including journalists and protesters shot by law enforcement officers,” U.N. High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet told a media conference in the Malaysian capital.

Hong Kong should immediately carry out an “effective, prompt, independent and impartial investigation” into acts of violence including the shootings, Bachelet said, adding that those responsible must face due process.

“I strongly condemn all acts of violence from all sides and I call all those responding to demonstrations and those engaged in protests to do so in a peaceful and non-violent way,” she said.

Hong Kong authorities imposed a ban on face masks on Saturday, a day after embattled leader Carrie Lam invoked colonial-era emergency powers in a bid to stem the violence.

In response to the ban, Bachelet said face masks should not be used to provoke violence but warned Hong Kong against using the ban to target particular groups or curtail the right to freedom of assembly.

“Freedom of peaceful assembly should be enjoyed without restriction to the greatest extent possible, but on the other hand, we cannot accept people who use masks to provoke violence,” she said.

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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