At least 79 people, including protesters and police officers, were treated in hospitals for injuries suffered during violent protests against the government’s proposed amendments to the extradition law on Wednesday, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
According to data from the Hospital Authority, 72 people, aged 15 to 66, were hospitalized for injuries related to the clashes as of 10 p.m. on Wednesday. Two of them were in serious condition. The figure rose to 79 as of Thursday morning.
Demonstrators, most of them young people wearing masks and goggles and dressed in black, gathered outside the Legislative Council building from Tuesday night with an aim to prevent the second reading of the controversial Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019.
Legco was originally scheduled to hold a full council meeting at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, but in view of the clashes, it has been postponed until further notice.
As protesters repeatedly charged police lines, serious clashes erupted and police fired rubber bullets, bean bag rounds and tear gas to deter them from advancing.
Of the two who were seriously injured, one was confirmed to be a driver working for RTHK.
According to Amen Ng Man-yee, the broadcaster’s head of corporate communications, the driver, who drove RTHK employees to the protest scene in Admiralty earlier that morning, was hit by a tear gas round at around 4 p.m. after getting off his vehicle parked by the road across Citic Tower on Tim Mei Avenue.
Ng said he was then sent to hospital with blood coming out his head, adding that he was in stable condition after treatment.
RTHK’s Programme Staff Union condemned the police for using excessive force, saying the driver was hit even though he wore a high-visibility vest that identified him as a journalist, the broadcaster reported.
Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, convener of the pan-democrats’ meeting group of lawmakers, also slammed the police for excessive use of force, adding that the government just “made judgement before trial”.
She also criticized the government for describing the protest as a riot and for calling demonstrators rioters.
Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen also assailed the police for using unnecessary force against young people.
Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung told media in a press briefing shortly after the clashes that police had to take action as their defense lines came under attack, RTHK reported.
Lo also condemned the protesters’ violent acts.
Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor called on the government to stop using force to resolve political issues before it’s too late and to initiate dialogues with citizens immediately to respond to the protesters’ grievances.
The group said the police action could cause serious harm and even lead to fatalities.
Authorities also took action on groups sending suggestions on how to deal with police during clashes via the messaging platform Telegram.
A person who acted as an administrator of one of the groups was arrested by police on Wednesday on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance.
The police reportedly asked the person to unlock his mobile phone and export the list of members of the group.
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