DHARAMSALA, 22 July: After facing rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets from police, protesters were protesters in Hong Kong were attacked by hundreds of white-clad masked men in the subway train station.
As many as 430,000 people took part in the seventh week of mass protests in Hong Kong on Sunday since early June to express their displeasure demanding Beijing-backed chief executive, Carrie Lam’s resignation, withdrawal of controversial extradition bill and calling for an investigation into police brutality.
What began as a peaceful protest ultimately turned violent Sunday night as protesters and police clashed and a white-clad masked crowd attacked protesters, reports the Vox.
The group followed a route outlined by authorities for much of the protest, but as the march reached the legislative district Sunday afternoon, thousands of protesters overwhelmed barricades and continued towards government buildings, the report said.
While the protesters reached the office of Beijing’s liaison to the city, a group of them broke away and smeared the office’s seal with eggs and black ink, the police responded by firing multiple rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets at them.
The report further added that when the protesters wound down and returned home, they were assaulted by hundreds of masked men, dressed in white wielding bamboo sticks and other weapons at them and passengers indiscriminately at and around the Yuen Long MTR station.
The Civil Human Rights Front, the organiser of the protest has accused the police of failing to take actions in Yuen Long while people were being attacked and instead, unnecessarily firing tear gas at protesters in Sheung Wan, reports the HKFP.
“Real thugs have attacked passersby, a journalist and a lawmaker, badly injuring them, but the police have failed to enforce the law. This has angered us greatly,” the protest organiser said in a statement.
The group further said that certain “powerful authorities” have been using “thugs” to attack protesters since the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement.
While Democratic Party Lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting was seen bleeding from his mouth in a social media live stream, a pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho could be seen applauding and giving a “thumbs up” to people dressed in white in another widely circulated online video.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong government issued a statement that strongly condemned the ‘protesters for blatantly challenging the national sovereignty’ of China by defacing the building and the national insignia, and declared that the authorities ‘will deal with these acts in a serious manner in accordance with the law.’
It further expressed the Hong Kong government’s concern over what described as ‘a small number of radicals’ who were inciting the masses to commit violent acts though it is reported that it left 45 hospitalised, including one who is critically injured.