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Police treatment of children arrested at Hong Kong protests raises concern

Lawyer Steven Kwan Man-wai recalls the day he sat across from a thin 15-year-old in a windowless room at a Hong Kong court.

About 36 hours earlier, at around 11.50pm on August 29, the boy was arrested for being part of an unlawful assembly in Sham Shui Po, as officers dispersed protesters who threw bricks and pointed laser beams at the police station there.

The teenager was wearing a black T-shirt and black face mask, the attire of anti-government protesters who have been taking to the streets since June. But he denied being part of that night’s protests, insisting that he was returning home after watching a documentary film with a friend.

Kwan also met a 15-year-old girl, arrested on the same night.

“They did not seem scared,” he recalled. “It was like they didn’t have emotions any more.

“I have handled many criminal cases. When I see young people who are relatively bad, I can judge from their appearance. These two looked like ordinary good kids.”

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