Monday 11 November 2019

Knife attack on leading activist sparks further chaos in Hong Kong council

Thrown out: A pro-democracy Hong Kong Legislative Council member is dragged away. Photo: Reuters
Thrown out: A pro-democracy Hong Kong Legislative Council member is dragged away. Photo: Reuters

Sarah Wu

Politicians were dragged out by security guards for heckling leader Carrie Lam as Hong Kong's parliament descended into chaos.

They were demanding an inquiry into a brutal attack on a prominent human rights activist ahead of a major rally.

The knife and hammer attack on Jimmy Sham, which left him bloodied and lying in the street on Wednesday night, was designed to intimidate protesters and incite violence ahead of Sunday's march, said pro-democracy Legislative Council member Claudia Mo.

"This very vicious attack took place practically on the eve of the call for yet another massive protest in Hong Kong on Sunday.

"We can't help feeling that this entire thing is part of a plan to shed blood on Hong Kong's peaceful protests."

It was the second day of turmoil in the council, after Ms Lam was forced to cut short her annual policy speech on Wednesday due to heckling and broadcast it via video.

"We need to be united against violence, say no to violence," Ms Lam said in the chamber and again defended her efforts to end the crisis.

"I have mentioned that we will be humble, listen to different voices and set up an expert commission to find a way out of the current situation we are facing."

Ms Lam later staged a Facebook Live event to air her policies and answer pre-submitted questions. After 30 minutes, 5,700 "angry" emojis had been posted compared with 1,300 "likes".

Hong Kong has been battered by four months of protests, driven by concerns Beijing is eroding freedoms granted when Britain handed the city back to China in 1997.

The crisis poses the biggest popular challenge to China's President Xi Jinping since he took office.

Pro-democracy politicians again accused Ms Lam of having "blood on her hands" for not meeting protesters' demands, which include universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into police behaviour.

Rights group Amnesty International said the "horrifying attack" on Mr Sham, head of the Civil Human Rights Front, would send a "chilling signal" and urged authorities to investigate. Police said they would.

Mr Sham was attacked in the gritty Mong Kok district by five men with knives and hammers. Photographs on social media show him lying sprawled on the ground, bleeding from his head.

CHRF said he suffered three wounds to the head and has swollen knees and elbows.

From hospital Mr Sham urged people not to seek revenge.

"Regardless of the identity, ethnicity, skin colour of the perpetrators, the root of the problem is the violence of the regime and the political system," he said.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News