Demosistō lawmaker Nathan Law said he suspects that the people who attacked him at the Hong Kong airport late Sunday may be part of an organized criminal gang and that they might have been paid by someone.
At a news conference Monday, Law showed reporters photos of the purported injuries suffered by him during the airport incident, which took place as he was returning to Hong Kong after a controversial trip to Taiwan.
In the photos, injury marks could be seen in areas near his chest and arms as well as on thighs near the pelvic area, with obvious scratch marks and bruises.
Expressing outrage, the young democracy activist called on the government and the police to act against political violence, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The 23-year-old legislator, meanwhile, said he was grateful to the Taiwan police as they had ensured his safety while he was on the island.
Law, along with three other Hong Kong democracy activists, had gone to Taipei last week to attend a political conference hosted by Taiwan’s pro-independence New Power Party (NPP).
The trip came under fire from pro-Beijing groups in Taiwan and Hong Kong, fueling demonstrations in both places.
At about 10 pm Sunday, when Law returned to Hong Kong from Taipei after attending the political forum, he was met with by a group of protesters in the arrivals hall.
The protesters shouted slogans and heckled Law, accusing him of trying to stir trouble in Taiwan.
When security guards tried to escort Law safely out of the area, the demonstrators blocked the way, resulting in some pushing and shoving.
In the ensuing chaos, Law suffered some injuries and his shirt was torn.
Law said at the news conference Monday that when he arrived at the airport, there were only a few airport security guards and some undercover police at the scene.
Accusing authorities of failing to do their job, he urged the police to reflect on the incident.
Law stressed that his meeting with Taiwan’s NPP was a normal interaction that was aimed at exchanging views on democracy and elections.
Claims that he was “colluding with the independence camp” are nothing but slander, the lawmaker said, reiterating that Demosisto party does not seek Hong Kong Independence.
Following the airport incident, Hong Kong police are said to have arrested two persons, aged 71 and 53. They were accused of attacking some media personnel who had gathered at the airport.
The elderly man, a retiree, was released on bail while the other, believed to be a transport worker, was also let off the hook as no one pressed charges.
Law’s case is now under investigation by the New Territories South regional police unit. It has been classified as assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The “organized” protest against Law was led by the Association for the Workers of Hong Kong Travel Industry Ltd. chairman Ip Chi-wai, and backed by members from the travel industry and political organizations that support Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, according to Apple Daily.
Some protestors were heard yelling “for Patriotism” when attempting to assault Law.
Ip, who is critical of Law, has however denied that the protesters were members of his organization.
Apple Daily reporters captured an image from a protestor’s handset screen that displayed a WeChat message calling for protestors to assemble at the “Exit A”.
The name of the WeChat group was “Jan 6 and Jan 8 Airport Protest Group”. At least four of the protestors were seen at previous pro-government protest events, according to the report.
Legislator Edward Yiu, who also attended the Taipei forum and returned to Hong Kong a day before Law, said he had alerted the police that Law might need protection upon his return.
Eddie Chu, another lawmaker who participated in the Taiwan event, criticized the police for failing to protect a legislator.
A police spokesperson, meanwhile, has said that they had notified Demosisto that scheduling of a media address by Law in the airport arrivals hall was inappropriate, but the party had ignored the suggestion.
In the wake of the Sunday incident, 25 pan-democratic legislators signed a joint declaration, saying patriotism cannot be used as an excuse for violence.
The lawmakers said they hope the police will arrest the people who resorted to violence against Law.
Michael Tien, deputy chairman of the pro-Beijing New People’s Party, also condemned the incident, declaring that a civilized society has no place for violence.
Attacks against legislators should not happen, whatever be the case, he said.
Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Hong Kong News Executives’ Association have also responded to the events, saying that attacks on media personnel cannot be tolerated.
The groups urged the police to conduct a thorough investigation and ensure that reporters’ rights to cover news events are protected.
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