Spontaneous protests broke out at several locations in Hong Kong Friday afternoon after the death in hospital of a student.
Chow Tsz-lok, also known as Alex Chow, 22, was found with serious head injuries five days ago, in a car park near the scene of a street battle between police and anti-government demonstrators, and had been in a coma since.
Police earlier told reporters that Chow fell from the third to the second story of the car park. Officers were in the car park at the time, but the police deny that Chow was pushed or that they were pursuing him.
Although the circumstances remain unclear, the computer science undergraduate is nonetheless being regarded by protesters as having died as a result of injuries sustained during a demonstration—potentially the first such case in five months of increasingly violent unrest.
Within hours of his death on Friday morning, crowds of office workers began gathering in the financial district, occupying main thoroughfares and chanting “Hongkongers, take revenge!” Calls for protesters to take “blood for blood” circulated online.
Hundreds also rallied in different parts of the Kowloon peninsula and at the Hong Kong University of Science of and Technology (HKUST), where Chow was a student.
According to local media, HKUST’s president, Wei Shyy, cut short a graduation ceremony Friday in order to visit Chow’s family at hospital, and announced Chow’s passing to the graduands present.
Hundreds of students later marched on his campus residence to demand he condemn alleged police brutality. Live news images showed his lodge heavily graffitied and windows broken. A canteen and a cafe were also reportedly ransacked and vandalized. The university urged students to “exercise restraint during this difficult moment.”
Speaking at a vigil on campus, Rey, a 19-year-old business student, said: “The situation has really crossed a moral line. This is not really about opposing political stances anymore. The police’s use of excessive force has resulted in a tragedy, and there is no way we can accept this.”
Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, a founder of the 2014 Occupy Central movement, addressed the vigil at HKUST saying that Chow “used his life to safeguard freedom. Even though his life on this planet has been cut short, yet his light is shining on us, inspiring and encouraging us.”
Thousands also gathered at the suburban car park where Chow was found unconscious. Mourners, including many families with young children, lit candles, laid floral tributes and wrote messages of condolence.
A salesman named Siu, who said he was in his 50s and lived opposite the car park, said: “I was heartbroken when I learned he had lost his life. He’s just a teenager. I don’t think the government is going to respond to this situation in a satisfactory manner. What they really need to do is face the reality and reflect on why the society has come to this—not stay in their own parallel universe.”
Live news feeds showed impromptu vigils taking place in several other districts of Hong Kong. Shortly after 8:00 p.m., a tense standoff took place in the Causeway Bay retail and entertainment district between riot police and angry crowds who occupied key intersections, shouting slogans and abuse.
Protesters also began setting up barricades on Nathan Road—the main artery through the congested Kowloon peninsula—and in at least two northern suburbs. A major suburban train station was evacuated after protesters began smashing the facilities.
Hong Kong’s embattled administration meanwhile issued a statement expressing “great sorrow and regret” over Chow’s death, and extended sympathies to his family. It added that a police crime unit was investigating the case. Some legislators also held a minute’s silence for Chow.
The young man’s demise comes at a time of worsening political tensions in Hong Kong and is sure to galvanize anti-government protesters, who are demanding greater political freedom for the enclave—a British colony for 156 years before it was retroceded to China in 1997.
Two days ago, a conservative politician was stabbed and hospitalized while out campaigning in local elections. Three days before that, a pro-democracy district councilor was attacked and had part of his ear bitten off after a political row outside a shopping mall. In recent weeks, at least two other democracy campaigners have been attacked and hospitalized, and two teenagers shot by police with live rounds, both of whom survived.
Thousands have been injured and arrested since the protests began in June. The unrest has taken an especially heavy toll on Hong Kong’s vital tourism and retail industries, pushing the territory into recession.
—With reporting by Abhishyant Kidangoor and Hillary Leung/Hong Kong
US senators urge passage of Hong Kong democracy bill as violence in city rises
US Senator Marco Rubio and Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, initiated a "hotline" process for the Senate to pass their Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act on Thursday.The strategic procedure carried out by the upper chamber's leadership checks for last-minute opposition to an attempt to bring a bill immediately to the floor for a vote.If no senators voice opposition to side stepping a formal vote, the bill passes."The world witnesses the people of Hong Kong standing up every day to defend their long-cherished freedoms against an increasingly aggressive Beijing and Hong Kong government," Rubio said in a press release."Their cries have been met with violence, and young Hong Kong lives have tragically been lost."Now more than ever, the United States must send a clear message to Beijing that the free world stands with Hongkongers in their struggle," Rubio's release said."I thank leaders McConnell and Schumer for their support, as well as Chairman Risch, Ranking Member Menendez and Senator Cardin for their strong partnership on this legislation and look forward to its enactment."Rubio's comments came after China's state-run Xinhua news agency earlier on Thursday quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping as reiterating that Beijing supported the Hong Kong police's use of force to quell the "continuing radical violent crimes".US Senator Marco Rubio and Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, launched a "hotline" process for the Senate to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Photo: AFP alt=US Senator Marco Rubio and Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, launched a "hotline" process for the Senate to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Photo: AFPEarlier in the day, China's state-owned Global Times newspaper had published a post on its Twitter account asserting that Hong Kong authorities were preparing to announce the imposition of a weekend curfew. The tweet was later deleted."The world needs to see that the United States will stand up and tell the Chinese Communist Party that what they are doing to the people of Hong Kong is wrong," Risch said."After more than two decades of broken promises, it is time to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its erosion of Hong Kong's autonomy. The US stands with the people of Hong Kong, and I look forward to continuing to work with Senate leadership and my colleagues across the aisle to move this bill swiftly."In 2007, Beijing said it would grant universal suffrage to the city in 2017, but that plan was scrapped when the Chinese capital said in 2014 that the candidates had to be chosen by a "nominating committee".Protesters attack the University MTR Station on the East Rail Line and a train carriage near Chinese University of Hong Kong in Sha Tin on Wednesday. Photo: Felix Wong alt=Protesters attack the University MTR Station on the East Rail Line and a train carriage near Chinese University of Hong Kong in Sha Tin on Wednesday. Photo: Felix WongHong Kong increasingly has become a battleground between police and protesters since June, when mass peaceful marches targeted a government proposal, since shelved, to allow the city's criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.Those protests have since morphed into a larger activism, with Hongkongers demanding the right to vote for their own city leaders.This week, the pro-democracy protests have taken a dark turn. On Wednesday, a 15-year-old boy was hit in the head by what appeared to be a tear-gas canister, according to the city Hospital Authority.A day earlier, a battle between police and protesters turned the a top university's campus into a combat zone.On Monday, a Hong Kong police officer shot a protester, while in a separate incident, protesters apparently set on fire a man who had expressed support for police outside an MTR station.US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed Rubio and Risch in a tweet on Thursday, urging the US government to act quickly to protect the protesters.""The Senate needs to stand with Hong Kong, and I hope we can take action soon"" McConnell said.""I was encouraged by a productive conversation with [Rubio on Wednesday] on legislation to further help the people of Hong Kong."The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act would give the president a mandate to impose sanctions on foreigners determined to be responsible for the extrajudicial rendition to the mainland, arbitrary detention, torture, or forced confession of people in Hong Kong, as well as for other gross violations of human rights in the city.A poster at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Sha Tin expresses support for the proposed US democracy bill amid a demonstration on Wednesday. Photo: Felix Wong alt=A poster at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in Sha Tin expresses support for the proposed US democracy bill amid a demonstration on Wednesday. Photo: Felix WongIn addition, the bill would task the Executive Branch to develop a strategy to protect American citizens and others in Hong Kong from rendition or abduction to China, and to report annually to Congress any violations of US export control laws and United Nations sanctions occurring in the city. ""Only international sanctions could impose some constraints on those who order to shoot and those who follow order to shoot. Senate needs to act as soon as possible on the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act"" said Victoria Tin-bor Hui, a board member of Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC), a Washington-based pro-democracy non-profit organisation.Samuel Chu, an HKDC managing director, praised Rubio's effort to institute a hotline process that would speed up the bill's passage in the Senate."The quickest way for the Senate to move would be to seek unanimous consent using a hotline," he said."If the Hong Kong bill is hotlined, and that can be done as soon as today, I firmly believe that the full Senate will stand united for Hong Kong"""There is no time to waste, as every day we wake up to new images of a violent crackdown, increased bloodshed, mass arrests and suppressions on the streets, on university campuses, in private residences and even houses of worship"" Chu said.This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Traveling to Hong Kong? Here’s What You Need to Know
Protests have been roiling Hong Kong for the past five months, but a significant escalation this week has seen public transportation shutdowns, violent protests across the territory and, as of Wednesday, foreign universities recalling their students out of fears for their safety.
Thousands of arrests have been made, hundreds have been injured, and countless petrol bombs have been thrown since the start of the unrest. Schools were suspended this week and many universities—which have become literal battlegrounds between protesters and police—have cancelled lectures for the remainder of the semester.
Businesses have been badly affected. Scores of shops have been ransacked, vandalized and burned, including branches of Starbucks. Malls have also been attacked and routinely bring the shutters down early to avoid trouble.
The U.S. has raised the travel advisory warning for Hong Kong to level two, calling for visitors to exercise “increased caution.” Canada and Australia have also upped their travel alerts, and the U.K. has warned that “the situation around protests and public gatherings can change quickly.”
If you must travel to Hong Kong, here’s what you need to know.
Getting to and from the airport
The Airport Express, the rail service that connects the airport to the city in 22 minutes, is still running. But it has experienced delays and frequently skips intermediary stops. Roadblocks on major highways have also caused the rerouting of some airport buses.
After protestors blockaded the airport in August, the Airport Authority heightened security checks. Currently, only those carrying an air ticket for a flight in the next 24 hours, and a valid travel document, are allowed to enter the departure hall. Travelers are also advised to allow sufficient time for travel to the airport.
The city’s main means of transportation is the train network. Known as the Mass Transit Railway (or MTR), it has come under heavy attack by protesters. Trains and stations have been set on fire, petrol bombs thrown into train compartments, facilities severely damaged and objects hurled onto the tracks.
In recent weeks, trains have been maintaining limited services, with many stations and sections of major lines frequently closed due to vandalism. Travelers can expect lengthy delays and overcrowding, especially during morning and evening rush hour. Service announcements are made in real-time on the MTR’s Twitter page, and the MTR website provides an overview of service arrangements.
Dozens of bus routes are regularly suspended or diverted when protesters occupy major roads and highways. Booking a taxi or an Uber may be the most reliable way to get around, but they can be very difficult to find during major protests. Be prepared to be flexible on pick-up and drop-off locations.
It is extremely dangerous to attempt to drive through or circumvent a barricade: motorists have been dragged from their cars and beaten for trying to do so. Protesters have also thrown petrol bombs at vehicles ignoring roadblocks.
Ferry routes, which take you across the harbor and connect the city to Hong Kong’s outlying islands, so far remain unaffected.
Where protests frequently occur
Protests can erupt quickly and have taken place all over Hong Kong—from working class suburbs to the heart of the business district. Tear gas has been fired on the city’s most exclusive streets and barricades erected outside Hong Kong’s smartest boutiques and hotels. Nowhere is immune.
Since Monday, protestors have been holding flash mob-style lunchtime protests—though some have lasted well into the evening—in Central, the financial district on Hong Kong Island. The gatherings have turned violent and led to clashes with riot police.
Admiralty, one subway stop from Central, is home to government offices and the legislature and therefore also a common protest site. So is the shopping district of Causeway Bay, which is home to Victoria Park—a traditional staging ground for marches and rallies
Across the harbor, the neighborhoods of Kowloon Tong and Hung Hom, where there are a number of universities, have seen frequent clashes. So has the tourist district of Tsim Sha Tsui. The tourist strip of Nathan Road—Hong Kong’s fabled “Golden Mile”—has seen frequent arson, vandalism, and battles between protesters and police.
What to do if a protest breaks out near you
Protests are organized online and can break out with little warning. Be alert.
While there is no specific threat to tourists, Steve Vickers, CEO of Steve Vickers and Associates—a risk consultancy retained by TIME to advise on security matters—says foreigners should leave if they find themselves in one.
“Ideally you should move away as soon as possible and exit the area,” he says. Many gatherings do not have official approval and your presence could “entail personal risk such as being accused of participating in an unlawful assembly,” he adds.
How to behave if you find yourself in a protest
With protests becoming more violent, heightened caution is essential. A 70-year-old bystander on his lunch break died Thursday after being struck, officials said, by “hard objects hurled by masked rioters.”
Do not express political opinions. A man has been set on fire for arguing with protesters and people have been stabbed for engaging in political disputes. Many others, including women and the elderly, have been beaten for expressing dissenting views. Bystanders, including foreigners, have also been beaten for taking photographs of the protests.
In certain situations, visitors should refrain from wearing black, which is the protest color.
What to do if you get tear gassed
Tear gas has been discharged liberally in Hong Kong’s main tourist and entertainment areas. Many shoppers and diners have been caught unawares by tear gas not only on the street but drifting into malls and restaurants.
Before you come to Hong Kong, you may want to read up on what to do if you are exposed.
The International News Safety Institute (INSI) has useful advice here on how to protect yourself.
The Centers for Disease and Protection has a comprehensive fact sheet on riot control agents here.
If you have no protective gear but are exposed to tear gas, INSI says you should “cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief or cloth or use the inside of your coat to protect your airway (the outside of your jacket is likely to be contaminated).”
INSI also advises that you make for higher ground, shower (not bathe) and discard exposed clothing—as agents will remain on clothing for months afterward.
Find out where protests will happen
It is important to plan your journeys around the city. Do not set out from your hotel without establishing if protests are going to be held in the vicinity and what transportation you will be taking.
During major protests, Hong Kong’s English-language paper of record, the South China Morning Post, runs a frequently updated live blog.
The Facebook pages of local media outlets such as Apple Daily and Stand News also live stream protests, capturing where protestors are and where clashes are taking place. Visitors can also download the app HKmap.live to track the whereabouts of police and protestors.
The emergency number in Hong Kong, for police, fire and ambulance services, is 999.
Justice Minister Hurt; Elderly Worker Dies: Hong Kong Update
(Bloomberg) — Chinese President Xi Jinping called an end to violence Hong Kong’s “most urgent task,” as a scuffle involving the city’s justice minister and the second protest-related death in a week heightened tensions in the paralyzed financial center.The rare comments by Xi during a visit to Brazil on Thursday came as the U.S. Senate moved to expedite passage of legislation that would support Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters. Earlier, a 70-year-old government contract worker who was struck during a brick-hurling fight between protesters and their opponents died of his injuries.The protests, which have raged for more than five months, flared anew last week after the death of student who fell near a police operation to clear a demonstration. A campaign to disrupt traffic has led to the shooting of a protester and citywide school cancellations, while Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s government has denied reports of a plan to institute an unprecedented curfew in a bid to quell unrest.Key developments:Hong Kong justice minister hurt in LondonXi urges immediate end to violenceGovernment worker dies, 15-year-old still in hospitalSome trains services remain suspended U.S. Senate vows quick vote on Hong Kong legislationHong Kong’s government dismisses curfew speculationHere’s the latest (all times local):Hurt 15-year-old still in hospital (8:56 a.m.)A 15-year-old boy who suffered a head injury from what local media said may have been a tear gas canister was still in Tuen Mun Hospital, the Hospital Authority said. The agency said the boy’s family asked that details of his condition — which was originally listed as critical — not be disclosed.Six people, ages 17 to 62, had been admitted to various hospitals for treatment for protest-related injuries overnight and this morning as of 7:30 a.m. All are in stable condition. The man shot by police in Sai Wan Ho on Monday is now in stable condition in Eastern Hospital. A man set on fire during an argument with protesters on the same day was still in critical condition at Prince of Wales Hospital. Group blames government for death (7:32 a.m.) A group of anonymous protesters that has occasionally spoken for the leaderless movement expressed “deepest condolences” for the death of a 70-year-old government worker Thursday, but blamed the incident on “police brutality” and government intransigence. “The HKSAR Government must concede to the Five Demands, and return to the table of politics to solve conflicts by political means,” the so-called Citizens’ Press Conference said in a statement Friday. Meanwhile, another protester group at the Chinese University of Hong Kong offered to remove barricades from the Tolo Highway in exchange for a government pledge to follow through with plans for District Council elections on Nov. 24, according to Radio Television Hong Kong. Students had already reopened one lane in each direction, the South China Morning Post said.Some trains still suspended (5:55 a.m.)Service between Fo Tan and Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau on the East Rail Line are suspended due to vandalism, railway operator the MTR Corp. said Friday. Trains between Hung Hom and Fo Tan on the same line are running every five minutes. Stations at Mong Kok, Tseung Kwan O, Sai Wan Ho, Tuen Mun and Tung Chung also remain shut.Justice secretary ‘attacked’ (3:47 a.m.)Hong Kong Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng condemned what her office said was an attack by a “violent mob” that caused her “serious bodily harm” Thursday while she was on an official visit to London. Cheng fell and hurt her arm after being surrounded by a group of about 30 protesters, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported.“The secretary denounces all forms of violence and radicalism depriving others’ legitimate rights in the pretext of pursuing their political ideals, which would never be in the interest of Hong Kong and any civilized society,” Cheng’s office said in a statement.Agency ‘saddened’ by death (2:21 a.m.)Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department confirmed that one of its contract workers had died Thursday from a head injury, expressing “profound sadness” over his death. The elderly worker “was suspected to be hit in his head by hard objects hurled by rioters during his lunch break,” the agency said in a statement, adding that it would provide assistance to the victim’s family.The government vowed to “make every effort to investigate the case to bring offenders to justice.”U.S. Senate advances bill (12:41 a.m.)The U.S. Senate is preparing for quick passage of legislation that would support pro-democracy protesters by placing Hong Kong’s special trading status with the U.S. under annual review. The Senate will run the “hotline” on the bill, which is an expedited process to check for last-minute opposition to bringing legislation immediately to a vote, according to Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican.The Senate legislation is different than a version passed earlier by the House of Representatives. That means the two bills would have to be reconciled and passed by both chambers before going to President Donald Trump to be signed into law.Man dies from head injury (11:45 p.m. Thursday)A 70-year-old man who suffered a head injury Wednesday has died, Ming Pao reported, citing the hospital. The case will be investigated by the coroner. He was hit by what appeared to be a brick thrown by protesters, according to the government and police.Separately, a 15-year-old boy underwent brain surgery after sustaining a head injury from what may have been a tear gas canister, local news organization RTHK reported.Xi seeks end to violence (10:25 p.m. Thursday)Xi, currently on a visit to Brazil, said “continuing radical violent crimes in Hong Kong have seriously trampled on the rule of law and social order, seriously undermined Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, and seriously challenged the bottom line of the ‘one country, two systems’ principle,” state broadcaster China Central Television reported in a social media post.“Stopping the violence and restoring order is Hong Kong’s most urgent task at present,” Xi said, reiterating support for Lam. “We will continue to firmly support the chief executive to lead the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in accordance with the law, firmly support the Hong Kong Police in law enforcement, and firmly support the Hong Kong judiciary in punishing violent criminals.”Government dismisses curfew talk (7:55 p.m. Thursday)“Rumors” that authorities were planning to implement a curfew over the weekend are “totally unfounded,” Hong Kong’s government said in a statement, following rising speculation after Lam’s late-night meeting with top officials on Wednesday.\–With assistance from Erin Roman, Daniel Flatley, Iain Marlow and Colin Keatinge.To contact the reporters on this story: Fion Li in Hong Kong at email@example.com;Dandan Li in Beijing at firstname.lastname@example.org;Daniel Flatley in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org, Jon HerskovitzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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