From June 12 to November 13, Hong Kong police fired at least 9,362 rounds of tear gas to try to control the protesters. On November 19, the numbers released by Jiang Yongxiang, Senior Superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch of the Hong Kong Police, showed that the police had only used 1,458 rounds of tear gas, 1,391 rounds of rubber bullets, 325 bean bag rounds and 265 sponge rounds. But these numbers were confirmed to include what was used on November 18 alone, showing clearly that the use of tear gas as a deterrent has escalated since the start of the protests.
Many reporters and citizens, including children, are now suffering various symptoms caused by the inhalation of tear gas. On the evening of November 11, the police frantically fired tear gas near the Yau Ma Tei metro station. Local people were deeply affected by the fumes.
Kathy, a local citizen, said that her 3-year-old daughter has developed red wart-like lumps on her body that first appeared on November 12. In fact, on the night the police fired tear gas, her entire family felt severe eye pain after being exposed to the toxic atmosphere. No one in the family dared go outside for a few days and it was impossible to let the little girl play in the park by their home.
The use of tear gas was not confined to Yau Ma Tei. Police went on to fire a large number of tear gas canisters at Mong Kok, Nathan Road, and Causeway Bay.
A local lady named Nancy, who was working in these areas, suffered severe skin trauma all over her body starting November 3. She required medical treatment, including large doses of steroids and medication to treat allergic reactions. But after more than 10 days, Nancy was still experiencing swelling and pain.
Animals suffering too
Hong Kong media reported that Guizhen, chief veterinarian of the SPCA, advised that animals exposed to tear gas would react very quickly, within one minute, and their eyes, mouths, throats, respiratory tracts, and skin could be severely burned, causing great suffering.
In early August this year, some Hong Kong media filmed the police bringing police dogs to the area where tear gas had been fired. In early September, some environmentalists discovered that the police dogs had diarrhea while on duty as a result of inhaling the toxic fumes. The police had not considered the welfare of the working dogs if they were to come into contact with tear gas and did not remove them in time to stop or at least limit exposure.
Since November 17, the police have continued to fire many more rounds of tear gas at Hong Kong Polytechnic University over a period of several days. On November 19, some locals found dead birds on the street and took photos. There were more carcasses at the side of the road and the sight of the dead birds with their claws curled up in the air was like a macabre warning to anyone who saw them.
Translated by Jean Chen and edited by Helen