Hong Kong conflict catches fire

6 mins read

Since November 8 this year, Hong Kong has seen a dramatic escalation in violence on both sides of the line. 

The is due to the death of a student protester on the morning of the 8th. His name was Chow Tsz-lok (Alex). 

Alex died at 8:09 am on the morning, at the age of 22, after succumbing to cardiac arrest. He allegedley fell from a building while protesting on the 5th of November (one month since the introduction of the Anti-Mask legislation). 

The details of his final hours leading up to his death are unclear and have led to much speculation within Hong Kong. 

On one side the HKP (Hong Kong Police) have stated that such an incident was an accident, while Hong Kong protesters have alleged that his death was as a result of intentional incident caused by the HKP.

During the night of the incident, HKP were heavily criticised for “intentionally” obstructing paramedics from attending to the fallen student. After a delay of treatment of nineteen minutes, Alex was finally taken into an ambulance and hospitalised until his death on the 8th.

On that night, mourners returned to the car park to lay flowers and candles for the deceased student. Footage later emerged of riot police attending the gathering, pouring water onto the candles left by the mourners which led to widespread criticism and anger aimed at HKP. 

The following evening, protesters gathered in Tamar Park (Hong Kong Island) to mourn the passing of Alex. Organisers claimed that 100,000 attended the event while HKP dismiss this claim and state that only 7,500 attended the event. 

All these events lead to the start of the drastic upshift in violence and tensions within the region. 

On November 10, mass demonstrations and protesting broke due to the previous day’s events and at the news of a 16-year-old girl coming forward with alleging to have been gang raped by four police officers in Tsuen Wan a few months prior. 

An act she states lead to her becoming pregnant. Earlier that day, the individual told hospital workers about what had allegedly happened to her and had received an abortion. This lead to mass protesting breaking out in Tsuen Wan alongside many other places like Tuen Mun and Mong Kok. 

 November 11, Day 1 General Strike: As part of a region wide strike, protesters gathered in the early hours of the morning. The aim for this was to completely disrupt all morning commuting and infrastructure in the region. 

This involved students, businessmen and workers skipping work. Students began barricading their own universities to stop teaching from being disrupted. 

At 7am, protesters began blocking roads, train (MTR) lines and tunnels. This resulted in mass disruption in Hong Kong. During such protesting, HKP shot two protesters leading to one, who was severely injured, being rushed to hospital. 

Alongside this, a traffic police officer had been recorded using his motorcycle to ram down protesters. Both events led to a mass outcry amongst the population and the traffic officer being suspended. 

The police started to siege the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU). They started firing tear gas into the University’s campuses in the early hours of the morning which caused a dramatic escalation in violence amongst the student body and the police outside. For context, Hong Kong the Police are not allowed onto University property unless being given consent by the University itself – this includes using tear gas. So, on the morning of the 11th the Police had illegally entered the University grounds and fired tear gas into student accommodation. 

Throughout the rest of the day mass protesting broke out all over Hong Kong in nearly all regions with hundreds of rounds of rubber bullets and tear gas being fired at the protesters. Counter protesters had been set on fire due to hundreds of petrol bombs being thrown as well. 

November 12, Day 2 of General Strike, The ‘Battle of CUHK’: Protests continued for a second day, following a similar pattern – mass protesting in the Central district of Hong Kong Island and mass transport disruption. 

Clashes between CUHK continued throughout the night. Alongside this the violence continued at CUHK with students turning the University into a mini fortress. 

This caused the multiple fires around the universities grounds and students raiding sports equipment (bows and arrows and Javelins) to fight against HKP. 

The main slogan of the protests has been “revolution of our times”. The events of the 12th for many are considered to be the start of the revolution in Hong Kong. 

Citizens consider the death of Alex and the general strikes to become the “new normal” in Hong Kong, while the ‘Battle of CUHK’ has been a turning point for the police brutality towards students and how students retaliate.

Featured image credit: LA Times

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