The leader of a student union at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) has fled the city following attacks by masked men earlier this month, saying he fear for his life.
Davin Wong, who had been acting president of the HKU student union, told the university’s governing council that he had taken a “one-way trip” after being set upon by unidentified men in Wanchai, local media reported.
He had recently been involved in organizing class boycotts by university students as part of the anti-extradition protests that have gripped the city since early June.
“Thank you everyone for your concern and support,” Wong said via his Twitter account on Friday. “I’m safe, but I hope all our comrades will take care of each other.”
“One day, we will all meet under the [Legislative Council] drum, and we won’t be wearing masks.”
Protesters hiked up Hong Kong’s iconic Lion Rock to mark the traditional Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival on Friday, where they formed a human chain of lights across the “lion’s” back with glowsticks and cell phone flashlights.
Another crowd gathered on the Peak shouting “Go Hongkongers!”, flashing lights back at the group on Lion Rock, social media posts showed.
Constant state of fear
Demosisto deputy chairman Isaac Cheng, who was attacked by three unidentified men near his home in the New Territories town of Tai Wai, said many identifiable figures in the leaderless movement were now living in a constant state of fear after a string of attacks on protesters.
“Everyone has a very close degree of participation in this movement, so the pressure is really high,” Cheng said. “But I hope everyone understands that this fear is created by the regime deliberately to stop us coming out in protest.”
“I will keep on coming out onto the streets,” he said.
Former U.S. general consul to Hong Kong and Macau Kurt Tong said on Thursday that the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam had “badly mishandled” the extradition bill proposal and its withdrawal.
Tong told a symposium hosted by the Atlantic Council that the proposals came amid growing concerns that the ruling Chinese Communist Party was eroding Hong Kong’s promised autonomy, along with its traditional rights and freedoms.
“That sense of frustration has fed people’s anxiety about the future,” he said.
Sarah Cook, senior research analyst on China at Freedom House, said Lam’s administration had also “stonewalled or given very unreasonable responses” to initial objections to the extradition amendments, a factor that had fueled the street protests.
Four United Nations human rights experts hit out on Thursday at the use of force and mass arrests targeting anti-extradition protesters.
“We are seriously concerned by credible reports of repeated instances where the authorities failed to ensure a safe environment for individuals to engage in public protest free from violence or interference,” the experts said in a joint statement.
“The way forward is not through the repression of dissenting voices and the use of excessive force,” they said.
Hong Kong is obliged as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to protect the safety and rights of those who participate in assemblies and create an environment conducive to a diverse and pluralistic expression of ideas and dissent from government policy.
“International standards require that such an objective cannot displace the rights of individuals to freedom of expression and the right to protest,” the statement said.
Democratic Party lawmaker James To said he hoped the Hong Kong authorities would take note.
“I hope that the Hong Kong government and Beijing will pay attention to, reflect on, and correct these problems,” To told RFA. “Otherwise, I am very worried that … countries with close trading relations with Hong Kong will seriously look at reviewing those relations.”
Protests that erupted in June in Hong Kong against plans by the city’s government to allow extradition to mainland China have grown into a broader movement, even after the city’s chief executive Carrie Lam pledged to scrap the plan.
The protesters’ five key demands are: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.
Reported by Tam Siu-yin and Fok Leung-kiu for RFA’s Cantonese Service, and by Shi Shan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.