As anger mounts over police brutality in Hong Kong, the first protester to be shot by officers after months of pro-democracy protests is now facing charges.
Tsang Chi-kin, 18, is in hospital in a critical condition after being shot in the left shoulder during a clash with riot officers in the Tsuen Wan district on Tuesday.
Many students felt firing so close to his heart was an attempt to kill him, fuelling protesters’ calls for more police accountability.
On the same day people in the mainland celebrated the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, an officer shot Tsang as he struck him with a metal rod.
Videos on social media showed a dozen black-clad protesters throwing objects at police and closing in on a lone officer, who opened fire as the masked teenager approached.
The protester toppled backward on to the street, bleeding from below his left shoulder.
Another protester was tackled by an officer while trying to drag the wounded teenager from the chaos as a petrol bomb exploded.
The government said Tsang’s condition was stable after surgery and said the case against him will be heard by a court this afternoon.
He will be among seven people charged with rioting and faces two additional counts of attacking police.
Rioting carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Thousands of people rallied on Wednesday demanding police to take responsibility for the ‘unjustified’ shooting.
Pro-democracy legislator Claudia Mo said: ‘The Hong Kong police have gone trigger-happy and nuts.’
After viewing a video of the shooting, she said: ‘The sensible police response should have been to use a police baton or pepper spray, etc, to fight back.
‘It wasn’t exactly an extreme situation and the use of a live bullet simply cannot be justified.’
More than 2,000 people chanted ‘No rioters, only tyranny’ as they filled an open air stadium near Tsang’s school in Tsuen Wan district on Wednesday night.
Many held posters reading ‘Don’t shoot our kids’ and held their arms in the location in which the protester took a bullet.
Schoolmates said Tsang loves basketball and is passionate about the pro-democracy movement.
One student in a Guy Fawkes mask, who did not want to be named due to fear of reprisals, said: ‘During the protests, we would feel safe if he is around because he was always the first to charge forward and would protect us when we were in danger.
‘I vividly remember him saying that he would rather die than be arrested. What an awful twist of fate that it was he of all people who was shot by the police.’
Several other peaceful rallies were held elsewhere, with protesters vowing not to give up their fight for more rights including direct elections for the city’s leaders.
But officers fired tear gas at pockets of black-clad youths who threw petrol bombs at police buildings, vandalised subway stations, smashed bank of China ATMs and blocked traffic with dug up bricks and metal railings.
Today 1,000 students have marched on the Chinese University in solidarity with Tsang and to keep up their fight for their democratic freedoms.
Authorities have defended the shooting as ‘reasonable and lawful’ and say the officer had feared for his life and that of his colleagues.
Hong Kong Deputy Police Commissioner Tang Ping-Keung denied claims officers were given permission to shoot to kill.
He said the shot to the chest was an attempt to immobilise Tsang quickly and effectively.
Tang said the officer’s action was in line with international procedures, but that police would mount an in-depth investigation.
Hong Kong’s government said widespread rioting on Tuesday was ‘planned and organised’ and called on parents and teachers to help restrain young offenders.
It comes amid widespread violence in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory over fears the Beijing communist regime is chipping away at Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms.
They were triggered in June by a proposed extradition bill which could see suspects from the region tried in the People’s Republic of China, despite having a separate judiciary.
It is unclear if Tsang will appear in court, as the charges can be made in his absence.
Published at Thu, 03 Oct 2019 03:08:00 +0000