All eyes on the eye reportCentral Station | Mary Ma 10 Sep 2019
Alongside flying bricks, firebombs, tear gas and rubber bullets of the riots is an information war in which it's nearly impossible to discern the truth from the lies.
For instance, a 22-year-old woman protester suffered serious injury to her right eye during a demonstration in Tsim Sha Tsui on August 11. Was her eye injured by a beanbag round fired by riot police, or a pellet from a protester's catapult?
The reluctance of the woman to speak about her wounds, and her refusal to give police access to her medical records, even though the force already has them, only deepens the mystery of what actually happened that evening in Tsim Sha Tsui.
It is hoped that with the report more light can be shed on what happened that night.
Then, white flowers were recently laid outside the Prince Edward MTR Station to mourn some who were thought to have been killed during a police crackdown at the station. Although the force has categorically denied this, the rumor persists.
So, did someone actually die inside the station that August 31 night or not?
Worse still, Executive Councillor Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun yesterday came up with a bizarre statement, saying she had "confirmed reports" of young women offering free sex to frontline protesters, and that one of the girls was the daughter of the friend of a cruise buddy's friend.
Those are just a handful of claims and counter-claims going viral in society these turbulent days. There are also photographs purportedly showing men in riot police uniforms assembling at the People's Liberation Army's Gun Club Hill Barracks in Tsim Sha Tsui, along with speculation some of those vandalizing MTR facilities were actually officers assigned to special duties.
Should all this been taken at face value? No, absolutely not - unless hard evidence is produced.
Regarding the woman with the eye, the mystery could be easily resolved if she's willing to appear publicly and let investigating officers get hold of her medical records. That may contain clues to help people understand the truth - since police insisted their men were innocent, and said the culprit could be somebody else.
Pro-democracy lawmaker James To Kun-sun said the unidentified woman may have many reasons for not allowing the police to obtain her records. However, To should understand there's grave public interest in the incident, as she has since become an icon of the anti-government protests.
It's important to allow the truth to be known regardless of political colors.
By the same token, the mystery of protesters thought to have died at Prince Edward can be readily resolved if MTR Corp is willing to release its CCTV records. Since police have lost their credibility among those criticizing the government, the CCTV footage is part of the best materials to help the force regain face.
As in the eye-injury case, there is immense public interest in the MTR recording.
Finally, Law's claim that the daughter of the friend of a friend's friend had allowed herself to become a sex slave - that's a very serious allegation in view of Law's role as an Executive Councillor.
As such, she should convince the indirect source to come forward to confirm the claim. Again, so much public interest is at stake.
During a crisis of information and misinformation, never believe an accusation without hard evidence.