A security guards stands inside the care unit of Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Hong Kong on Friday. A Hong Kong student who fell from a multi-storey car park during a violent protest last weekend has died, said the hospital. Photo:AFP
The “mourning” for the death of the Hong Kong student who fell from a building finally evolved into old tricks as blocking roads, vandalizing the MTR and campus violence, triggering concerns that escalating violence will sabotage the fairness of the city’s upcoming elections, Hong Kong-based observers noted.
Chow Tsz-lok, a 22-year-old computer science undergraduate at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), died Friday morning after suffering brain injuries from a car park fall during a violent protest on Monday.
Despite repeated statements from the police that no police officer pushed Chow or caused his fall, opposition groups insisted that Hong Kong police should be blamed for his death.
During a press conference on Friday afternoon, Senior Superintendent Foo Yat-ting of the Hong Kong Police Force’s Kowloon East Region dismissed the accusation that police chased Chow before he died and hindered his recovery. Police had dismissed similar rumors on Tuesday.
Chow left his home alone, wandered alone in the car park and walked to the third floor alone, Foo said. She noted that the police entered the car park twice that night. Chow wasn’t seen there the first time, and the second time the police arrived at the same time as firefighters, who were administering first aid on Chow.
The cause of the fall was still under investigation, said Foo, who vowed fairness in the investigation and promised all information concerning Chow’s death will be published in an open manner.
After Chow’s death, the university president urged students to observe restraint during this time so as to avoid further conflict and tragedy.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government said that it is saddened by the student’s death, adding that the police are committed to investigating the incident.
Chow’s death has become a new excuse for opposition groups to incite hatred toward the police, as messages such as “a revenge is a must,” “a life for a life” and “police should pay the price” have flooded social networks like Telegram.
Many rioters in the university vandalized campus facilities, smashed a professor’s office and the university president’s residence, blocked roads and vandalized MTR stations in the name of “mourning Chow.”
“This is the most frightening day for me since the protests broke out in June,” a mainland student in HKUST surnamed Zhang told the Global Times on Friday.
Zhang lamented that Friday is mainland students’ “escape day,” with many mainland students leaving campus after the university issued a warning and cancelled the graduation ceremony.
Zhang said many rioters from outside the university swarmed into the campus, vandalizing facilities and harassing mainland students and scholars.
On Monday evening, a group of black-clad HKUST students gathered on campus in the name of supporting Chow. They illegally detained the university president for six hours and falsely accused a teacher from the Chinese mainland of sexually harassing them.
On Wednesday night, a student from the Chinese mainland, who was accused of pushing a masked protester, was beaten by a crowd of protesters. Even when security guards tried to maintain order and protect him, black-clad students knocked his head and attacked him with an umbrella.
Threat to elections
The death of the HKUST student will further inflame the current confrontation. And such hatred and divergence would hardly guarantee a fair environment for the elections, Chan Yung, vice-chairman of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), told the Global Times.
The local election falls on November 24.
Over 60 offices of DAB have been vandalized, and the cases have not been solved and mobs could not be stopped, Chan noted.
Such black terror has been spreading not only in Hong Kong universities but also across the city, targeting pro-establishment legislators like outspoken Junius Ho.
The pro-establishment legislator Junius Ho Kwan-yiu was stabbed by a murder suspect with a knife in Tuen Mun Wednesday morning. After the attack, Ho said pro-establishment voices have been threatened by black forces, and the upcoming district elections will be sabotaged after rioters engage in vicious attacks on candidates.
The attacker was charged with attempted murder for allegedly stabbing Ho, and was denied bail in court on Friday.
Despite Ho’s injury, many local media and opposition forces claimed Ho’s attack was staged.
Ho was discharged from the hospital on Friday. He told the Global Times that the black force’s extreme method to silence him will not succeed.
A Starbucks store vandalized by rioteres in Hong Kong Photo: web
Call to stop violence
Some Hong Kong people were concerned about the escalating violence ahead of the local election.
After Chow’s death, “many online rumors are helping escalate the situation,” Chan said, noting that it is like the Battle on Shangganling Mountain, featuring one of the most difficult moments of the Korean War in 1950.
“This will be the darkest election period we will go through,” Elizabeth Quat, a Hong Kong lawmaker, told the Global Times.
Aside from pro-establishment legislators, social workers and employees who work for political parties, and ordinary people who support the government also face growing safety concerns, said Quat.
“One of our social workers was attacked by a black-clad mob this morning in Sha Tin. And many ordinary people also want to know how they can avoid being attacked if they come out and vote.”
Tang Fei, a member of the Council of Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, believes rioters will target supporters of pro-establishment lawmakers ahead of the elections, to scare them off to guarantee an opposition victory.
Tang said that the new round of violence, whose duration and intensity is hard to estimate, is likely to go out of control.
Ho said the primary task for Hong Kong today is to prevent political parties and politicians that support violence from winning in the local elections on November 24. “No matter what your political stance is, please cut yourself off from violence,” Ho said.