Yesterday, Hong Kong police shot an unarmed person at close range as protesters tried to block a junction at Sai Wan Ho on the north-east of Hong Kong Island. The victim is the third person to have been shot during the protests, which have become increasingly violent since they began in the region 24 weeks ago.
Later on Monday, a pro-Beijing demonstrator was doused in flammable liquid on a footbridge in Ma On Shan and set on fire in a separate incident. Both victims are said to be in a critical condition in hospital, according to hospital authorities.
Hong Kong gets hectic as police shoot a protester and another is set alight. Both are critically injured but recovering in hospital.
Video of the shooting was live streamed on Facebook by a local television production company. Please note that the video shows graphic content and viewer discretion is advised. It depicts a police officer grabbing one protester from the street in a headlock and then rapidly pulling his gun on another whilst using the first as a shield.
The second young man, clad in the protests’ signature black clothing and a face mask, does not appear to be armed or to be threatening the police officer before he is shot in the abdomen. The police officer then fires a few more shots, although the direction of these is unclear, and arrests the 21-year-old university student. There were 260 other arrests that day, according to the Hong Kong Police Department.
Monday’s protests were held in response to the death of another protester, Chow Tsz-lok, 22, who died early last Friday morning after sustaining brain damage from a fall during protests held the previous week. Chow, a computer science student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, was found injured in a car park after a fall from a one-story building. His death inspired a new wave of protests through Hong Kong’s central business district on Friday which saw demonstrators carrying black banners and similarly matching flowers whilst blocking traffic.
Confrontations between protests and the police have grown increasingly violent over recent weeks despite the controversial extradition bill, which initially prompted them back in June, being scrapped in September. It being withdrawn was one of the protesters’ five demands, the remaining four of which include the protests not to be termed as “riots,” and an independent investigation into police brutality.
Hong Kong’s Executive Director, Carrie Lam, told journalists yesterday:
“If there is still any wishful thinking that by escalating violence, the [Hong Kong government] will yield to pressure to satisfy the so-called political demands, I’m making this statement clear and loud here: That will not happen.”
She also said of Monday’s events: “One is the outcome of open-fire incident by police, in the course of an enforcement operation. The other is a very malicious case of setting an individual on fire in front of many witnesses. This is a blatant breach of peace and the rule of law.”
Lam has faced increasing criticism over recent weeks with calls to step down as Hong Kong’s embattled leader. The relationship between the government, the police, and the protesters is becoming increasingly fraught, with yesterday’s protests clearly a far cry from the peaceful marches that took place during the Umbrella Movement in 2014. Then, protesters used umbrellas to protect themselves against the use of police pepper spray as a gesture of peace during a 79-day protest in aid of more transparent local elections.