Hong Kong police faced a type of a diplomatic incident this week after an officer compared local cops to Jews persecuted by the Nazis during Holocaust.
The incident began on Wednesday night, at a mass protest held after seven police officers were sentenced to two years in prison for assaulting an activist in 2014, according to local media.
During the rally, according to the South China Morning Post, a police officer addressed crowds, saying: “It’s like we’re now in the second world war. We are Jews facing the persecution of the Nazis, aren’t we?”
The newspaper said that the protesters, consisting of 33,000 former and current police officers, yelled “yes” in response.
The officer was identified as a station sergeant from the elite Special Tactical Squad.
On Thursday, the Israeli consulate in Hong Kong released a statement denouncing the comparison.
“Without relating to the trial of the seven police officers, the alleged statement at the rally that made a reference to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany is inappropriate and regretful,” the statement said. “We wish no further comparison will be made to the Jewish Holocaust.”
The German consulate followed suit on Friday, saying that the reference “shows a regrettably insufficient knowledge of historical facts.”
“The Jewish population in Germany was persecuted by the State and all its organs during the Nazi dictatorship and millions lost their lives.
Therefore the comparison between the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and police officers convicted for an abuse of power is utterly inappropriate.”
The Hong Kong Holocaust & Tolerance Centre said in a Facebook post that the comments “trivialized” the Holocaust.
The South China Morning Post cited a police source as saying that the force is trying to arrange a meeting with representatives of both consulates in hopes of rectifying the situation.
“We need to stress to them that the comment does not represent the force and we disagree with the comment as well,” the source was cited as saying.
Another senior police source cited by the newspaper said the situation is “out of control,” expressing concern that the backlash was hurting the force’s image internationally.
“The consulates could make a formal complaint to the SAR government,” he said. “This would be very serious and damaging if it happens. It would become a diplomatic issue that the force cannot handle.”