By Eva Cheng Activists are putting local and international pressure on the Hong Kong police after eight participants in a peaceful demonstration of 30 on safety and health for toy workers were physically attacked or arrested on January 10. The arrested are now out on bail, with no charges against them yet. The attack is widely seen as a concerted act of the police and big business to intimidate workers. Privately employed security guards of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the demonstration took place and where Hong Kong toy businessmen were holding a trade fair, reportedly started the assault. The police joined in later, not to defend the demonstrators but to help the attackers. About 70 people protested on January 17 in solidarity with the earlier demonstrators. Their protest was endorsed by a petition from at least 20 US labour and progressive organisations to Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten and the Hong Kong Toys Council, which organised the fair. The earlier demonstrators were participants in the International Meeting for Toy Workers' Health and Safety, held on January 9-12, to coincide with and protest against the toy fair. The fair's participants are among the worst offenders on workplace safety, leading to repeated industrial "accidents" and fires in which many workers sustained injuries or lost their lives.
Hong Kong police attack demonstrators