The leader of one of Hong Kong’s biggest pro-democracy groups remained in hospital in stable condition after he was attacked by hammer-wielding men near Mong Kok on Wednesday night.
Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), which has organized several massive marches against the now-withdrawn extradition bill since June, said in a Facebook post on Thursday morning that he was being well taken care of by hospital staff and that he hoped to recover as soon as possible.
The attack came as the CHRF was organizing another march in Kowloon this Sunday. The group urged the public to join the protest and not be deterred by the incident.
Chief Inspector Ng Tak-nam, of the Mong Kok Police District (Crime), said Sham was walking on Arran Lane in Tai Kok Tsui, west of Mong Kok, at around 7:30 p.m., when four to five masked men wearing black clothes assaulted him with hammers and knives.
They fled to Bute Street and left in a black car, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
Police immediately launched a manhunt but failed to locate the assailants’ getaway car, Ng said.
Figo Chan Ho-hang, CHRF’s deputy convenor, said Sham was on his way to attend a meeting of the group when the incident happened. He said the assailants brandished knives and threatened passers-by against helping the victim.
Images circulating on social media showed the activist lying in a pool of blood on the street.
Sham was conscious when he was rushed to Kwong Wah Hospital in Yau Ma Tei.
The activist suffered wounds to the right side of the back of his head and forehead as well as abrasions on his elbows, Ng said, citing hospital staff.
Ng said although Sham was in stable condition after treatment, it was not suitable for him to give a statement, adding that uniformed police personnel had been assigned for his security.
It was not the first time the activist had been attacked. On Aug. 29, Sham and a friend were assaulted by masked men inside a restaurant in Jordan.
Three men, aged 15 to 44, were arrested in connection with the August attack, while two other suspects are being pursued.
In his social media post on Thursday, Sham said the attacks will not deter him from pursuing the fight for democracy, adding that he still believes the goal should be achieved in a peaceful, rational and non-violent manner.
Sham thanked the police for their quick response, noting that they arrived at the scene right after receiving a report of the incident. He also hoped that the people behind the attack would be caught soon.
The case, temporarily listed as wounding, is being handled by a unit of the District Crime Squad of Mong Kok District. No arrests have been made.
Inferring that the bloody attack was premeditated, Ng stressed that the police will investigate the case in an impartial manner.
Asked if the motive behind the attack was related to the ongoing protests, Ng said police are not ruling out any possibility.
The CHRF condemned the attack, saying: “It is not hard to link this incident to a spreading political terror in order to threaten and inhibit the legitimate exercise of natural and legal rights.”
Amnesty International called for an immediate investigation. “The authorities must promptly conduct an investigation into this horrifying attack [and] send a clear message that targeting activists will have consequences,” said Joshua Rosenzweig, head of Amnesty’s East Asia regional office.
Calling the incident shocking and infuriating, Tanya Chan Suk-chong, convener of the pan-democrats’ meeting group of lawmakers, asked whether some people were stirring up more chaos to give the administration an excuse to postpone the District Council elections scheduled for next month.
Sham will not be able to join Sunday’s march as he will remain in the hospital for some time in view of his injuries, said CHRF member Eric Lai Yan-ho, who has spoken to the protest leader.
Sham is also urging fellow protesters not to engage in “private score-settling” as the real problem stems from institutional violence, Lai said.
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