Over 40 injured as 'gangsters' attack protesters in Yuen Long

July 22, 2019 13:32
Former TVB journalist Ryan Lau was among those who suffered injuries in the Yuen Long attacks. Photo: Internet

A gang of men armed with sticks attacked people believed to have participated in an anti-government protest on Sunday, leaving more than 40 injured in the shocking incident that took place at an MTR station in the New Territories.

According to the Hospital Authority, 45 people had sought treatment at various hospitals after they suffered injuries during the violence at Yuen Long MTR Station.

A male victim was in critical condition at Tuen Mun Hospital, while five others were in serious condition, the authority said.

MTR said in a statement that its control center was made aware of trouble at Yuen Long Station at 10:45 pm on Sunday. The rail operator said it contacted the police at 10:47 pm, but was told that officers were already aware of the matter, RTHK reported.

The station was not closed until 11:55 pm.

According to reports, a group of men clad in white T-shirts set upon passengers at the rail station, resorting to violence in the station area as well as on trains.

Most of those assaulted were people who were returning home after they participated in a protest march in the city earlier in the day, the latest in the series of anti-government actions triggered by the now-suspended extradition bill. 

As the gang of men beat up anyone wearing black, which was the dress code followed by extradition bill protesters during the recent demonstrations, some innocent passengers -- who happened to be wearing black at that time -- also fell victim to the violence. 

Messages circulated online on Sunday afternoon that some white-clad gangsters might be seeking to confront demonstrators wearing black, laying ambush at the rail station.

The warning tuned out to be real after nightfall as a group of people wearing white T-shirts and masks chased black-clad passengers at Yuen Long Station, using sticks to beat up the people as they were trying to exit the station.

Video clips doing the rounds on social media showed the assailants in white launching attacks with weapons including sticks and brooms in the station concourse as well as in train compartments.

Some of those targeted used umbrellas to fight off the attackers, but were mostly unsuccessful in their attempts. Following the vicious assault, many passengers were seen with blood covering their faces and limbs.

Among the victims was Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, as well as some journalists.

Responding firefighters who arrived at the scene took the injured victims to Pok Oi Hospital, Tin Shui Wai Hospital and Tuen Mun Hospital.

Pro-establishment lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, who is a member of Yuen Long District Council, was caught on video being welcomed by some white-clad people.

Stressing that no violent behavior can be tolerated, the police said they are actively following up on incident in order to bring the offenders to justice. 

Calling what happened “absolutely unacceptable to Hong Kong as a society that observes the rule of law”, the government said it “will seriously take enforcement actions.” 

The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), which organized Sunday’s protest march on Hong Kong Island, accused the police of failing to take actions in Yuen Long when people were attacked, and of firing tear gas unnecessarily at protesters earlier in the day in Sheung Wan.

In a statement, 24 pan-democratic lawmakers slammed the police, accusing it of dereliction of duty in preventing attacks on citizens from suspected gangsters.

The lawmakers demanded a meeting with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor as soon as possible to discuss the "unprecedented crisis" in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Hong Kong Press Photographers Association and the Independent Commentators Association also issued a joint statement condemning the assault on journalists at Yuen Long MTR Station and “urgently appealing to the police to perform their duty and protect the people and journalists”.

In a social media post, New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who is a member of the Executive Council, described the Yuen Long incident “an ominous indication that violence is spreading” in the city.

She urged "all parties concerned to return to their senses and abandon violence, so that our beloved city can return to its past tranquility”.

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People holding sticks confront black-clad passengers at MTR's Yuen Long Station on Sunday night. Photo: Facebook
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting is seen with injuries on an MTR train after being attacked by a gang of men. Photo: Facebook
Images circulating online show people in white T-shirts beating up passengers inside the Yuen Long MTR Station. Photo: Internet