A 21-year-old Hong Kong student shot by police during street protests called Saturday on voters to come out in force to cast their ballots in weekend elections to “earn more democracy”.
The semi-autonomous city of 7.5 million votes on Sunday in district-level polls seen as a gauge of the popularity of the pro-Beijing government, which has refused to yield during nearly six months of pro-democracy protests and is accused of failing to stop police brutality.
“I hope Hong Kong people can cast their votes to earn more democracy in a peaceful way,” Chow Pak-kwan, masked and dressed in the black colours of the city’s pro-democracy movement, told reporters.
Chow was shot two weeks ago, one of three people hit with live rounds during protests. He is the first of the shooting victims to speak publicly.
Chow was discharged from hospital on Wednesday after having one of his kidneys and part of his liver removed as a result of his wound.
Walking with a cane, Chow said he would vote near his home on Sunday.
“One more vote means a lot and every vote matters,” he said.
The vocational-school student was shot in the abdomen by a traffic police officer on November 11, when protesters blocked roads across the city to push for a de facto general strike.
“I didn’t feel any pain the moment I got shot. It felt like being hit by something with great force,” Chow recalled.
“The strong pain only came after the surgery.”
Hong Kong’s protest movement was sparked by a now-shelved bill to allow extraditions to mainland China, which revived fears that Beijing was restricting the city’s freedoms.
The movement has widened to include calls for direct elections and an inquiry into alleged police brutality.
Chow criticised the use of live rounds, saying he suffers from nightmares.
“I woke up at 2 am, 4 am and 5 am when I was in hospital, from dreams where I saw the officer pointing his gun at me and pulling the trigger,” Chow said.
Police at first claimed the shooting was justified, alleging that Chow was attempting to snatch the officer’s gun.
Chow was arrested for unlawful assembly, and on Friday the commissioner of police said he might be charged with other offences following an in-depth investigation.
But his lawyer Cheng Kar-foo, who was present with Chow on Saturday, said authorities were yet to file charges.
“A human can be killed by a bullet, but his beliefs can’t,” Chow said.