HKUST student who fell during police dispersal dies

November 08, 2019 14:35
People attend a rally after the news broke that HKUST student Chow Tsz-lok (inset), 22, died early on Friday. Photo: Reuters/ Internet

A university student who suffered brain injury after he fell during clashes between police and protesters at the weekend died on Friday morning. 

The death of Chow Tsz-lok, 22, a computer science student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, is expected to spark fresh protests and fuel anger and resentment against the police, who are already under pressure amid accusations of using excessive force as the city grapples with its worst political crisis in decades.

The circumstances of how he was injured were unclear but authorities said he was believed to have fallen from the third to the second floor of a parking lot at Sheung Tak Estate in Tseung Kwan O in the early hours of Monday. Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters around that time.

He had been lying in a coma at Queen Elizabeth Hospital since Monday.

HKUST president Professor Wei Shyy announced Chow's passing during a graduation ceremony at the campus on Friday morning.

"We just confirmed the tragic news that our student, Chow Tsz-lok, has passed away. We would like to observe a moment of silence in remembrance of him. Would you please rise," RTHK quoted Shyy as saying.

The university issued a statement saying it was deeply saddened by Chow's death and it expressed its deepest sympathy to his family, adding that it would offer them all necessary support, the broadcaster reported.

The university also decided to cancel the graduation ceremony that was originally scheduled for 3 p.m. as well as classes on Friday.

Lawmakers attending a meeting of Legco's panel on health services also observed a minute of silence for Chow. The move was requested by Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung of the Labour Party and agreed by the panel's chairwoman, Ann Chiang Lai-wan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.

Lai Wai-chun, provisional president of HKUST students' union, said Chow's death was extremely sad, adding he hoped people will not disturb his family.

He said a candlelight vigil on the campus, to start at 6 p.m., was being arranged.

Spontaneous demonstrations erupted in various parts of the city after news of Chow's death was reported.

At lunch break in Central, office workers gathered on the streets to mourn his passing, many wearing masks and some openly sobbing. A huge banner denouncing police brutality was unfurled.

Groups of people also gathered in Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, Kwun Tong and Sha Tin to mourn Chow's death.

In response to media inquiries, a government spokesman expressed great sorrow and regret over Chow's death and extended sympathies to his family.

Police have stated that they attach great importance to the incident, a government statement said, adding that a comprehensive investigation to find out what happened is being conducted.

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said he was deeply saddened by Chow's death and expressed his condolences to the students’ family, adding that the Education Bureau will maintain close contact with the HKUST.

The education minister urged everyone to stay calm and allow the student’s family to get through the tough times. With a Reuters report

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