Tuesday 15 October 2019

Students rally to condemn police shooting of protester in Hong Kong

The protests began in the former British colony in June.

Supporters wearing masks attend a strike in Hong Kong (Vincent Yu/AP)
Supporters wearing masks attend a strike in Hong Kong (Vincent Yu/AP)

By Eileen Ng and John Leicester, Associated Press

Hundreds of students have taken part in a strike to condemn the shooting of their classmate during surging violence at Hong Kong pro-democracy protests that marred China’s National Day.

It was the first time a protester had been struck by gunfire since the protests began in June and is sure to inflame anger at police, who already were accused of using excessive force against the demonstrators.

Police have said the officer feared for his life and his shooting of the 18-year-old student in the chest at close range on Tuesday was “reasonable and lawful”.

Students at the Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu memorial college — which the teenager attended — called police “murderer” on Wednesday. They chanted anti-police slogans and demanded accountability.

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A supporter holds a printing featuring a protester being shot in the chest by police (Vincent Yu/AP)

“The Hong Kong police have gone trigger-happy and nuts,” pro-democracy politician Claudia Mo said on Wednesday.

Having repeatedly viewed video of the shooting, Ms Mo said: “The sensible police response should have been using a police baton or pepper spray, etcetera, to fight back.

“It wasn’t exactly an extreme situation and the use of live bullet simply cannot be justified.”

Several hundred people, including students, protested with quiet fury at the wounded demonstrator’s school in the Tsuen Wan district of Hong Kong on Wednesday morning.

Sitting crossed-legged, some held an arm across their chest to below their left shoulder — the location of the teenager’s gunshot wound.

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Anti-government protesters holding umbrellas march in Hong Kong (Vincent Yu/AP)

One held a hand-written message condemning “thug police”.

Commissioner Stephen Lo said on Tuesday night that the officer had feared for his life and made “a split-second” to fire with a single shot at close range.

“It was the attacker who decided to come so close,” he said. “He had no choice, he could only use the weapon that he had available.”

Mr Lo said there is no order for police to shoot if they are under threat but they can use appropriate force.

He described protesters as “rioters”, saying they have committed widespread criminal acts — from attacking police officers, including 25 who were injured, to destroying public property and vandalising shops and banks linked to China.

PA Media

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