In Hong Kong, friends and colleagues of a volunteer university student medic who was severely burned by a tear gas grenade thrown by police, spoke out on Nov. 5, condemning police brutality and calling for support from the school.
“The situation in Hong Kong is becoming ridiculous that the police [is] attacking everyone randomly,” student Cynthia said.
The student medic was attending a protest when police threw the grenade into the midst of journalists and medics, even though there was no threat or protesters.
The Chinese made tear gas canisters are known to burn at an extremely high heat when detonating. Sparks were said to be seen on the medic’s back when he was hit. He was not wearing a mask and inhaled large amounts of gas.
“Always you can see from the camera and the video clips and that the Hong Kong police lost their temper and shout at the citizens and also using the pepper spray to attack journalists or even the pedestrians,” student Joe said.
The Shue Yan University student union is urging the university to take a stand against injustice, provide assistance to the injured student, take action to protect students from random searches on campus, and publicly condemn the violent tactics and weapons used by the police force.
“I knew about communism when I was a boy,” professor and head of department Wong Kin Yuen said. “I came to Hong Kong because I wanted to escape from it. But now we are facing it, right here.”
Witnesses say the police stopped an ambulance from entering the scene, delaying medical attention to the injured medic.
“Unimaginable that Hong Kong has turned to such a state of affairs,” Yuen said. “It’s almost like overnight that there is a totally different Hong Kong. Of course the most obvious would be the behavior of our police.”
Students expressed gratitude to the fireman and those on the scene who provided medical attention, as well as to the civilian who defended the victim against further harm.
Masked Protesters Take to Streets
On the same day, hundreds of Hong Kong protesters marked Guy Fawkes Day in the Tsim Sha Tsui tourist district of Kowloon by wearing the white, smiling Guy Fawkes masks made popular by anti-establishment hackers, the film “V for Vendetta” and protesters globally.
Some protesters vandalized traffic lights and a restaurant perceived as being pro-Beijing, prompting police to move in with the water cannon, near the science museum, as they have done on many nights during five months of demonstrations. Some protesters were detained, while others ran off.
Guy Fawkes Day, also called Bonfire Night, is celebrated with fireworks and bonfires every Nov. 5 in Britain. Effigies of “guys” are burnt, marking the night in 1605 when Fawkes was arrested for a “gunpowder plot” to blow up parliament.
“We are here to tell the government that we are not afraid of them and that they should be afraid of us,” masked protester Pete, 27, said in front of the huge, harbor front neon Christmas decorations.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam banned face masks last month, invoking colonial-era emergency powers for the first time in more than 50 years, but protesters have largely ignored the ruling.
The demonstrations in Hong Kong began over a since-scrapped extradition bill and escalated in mid-June against China. Protesters have kept up their calls for universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, among other demands.
Authorities have refused permits for many recent protests, making them illegal from the outset and activists liable to be arrested.
There have been many injuries in the protests, but no deaths. A 22-year-old student at a Hong Kong university who fell during protests at the weekend was in critical condition on Tuesday, hospital authorities said.
A man stabbed at least two people on Sunday and bit off part of a politician’s ear before being beaten by protesters. A 48-year-old suspect has been charged with wounding.
With reporting by Jeremy Sandberg and Reuters contributed to this report.