A pro-democracy protester was shot at close range and a counterprotester was set on fire as violence continued to engulf Hong Kong on Monday morning, with the disturbing images of street fights and escalating attacks from both sides drowning out an appeal by the city’s embattled leader for an end to demonstrations.
Carrie Lam, the pro-China chief executive of Hong Kong, laid the blame for the ongoing demonstrations deteriorating into chaos squarely at the feet of the pro-democracy protesters, who she labeled “rioters.” But videos emerging from the autonomous Chinese territory showed the mayhem being instigated from all angles.
Video of one horrific incident showed a man, who is described as being opposed to the protesters, having a substance thrown on him which then ignites, consuming the man’s upper body in flames.
Lam said the man was in critical condition after he was set on fire, and described the attack as “totally inhumane,” AFP reported.
In another alarming interaction, a police officer is seen shooing away a group of protesters at a street intersection, then drawing his gun on one masked demonstrator who approaches him. As the two struggle, the officer points his gun at a second protester who walks toward him and shoots him at close range in the stomach area.
The protester falls to the ground as the police officer appears to fire again as a third protester enters the melee. Authorities said only one protester was shot and was in critical condition at a nearby hospital.
“Rioters” were to blame for destroying Hong Kong and cautioned that violence won’t get demonstrators what they want, Lam warns
“If there’s still any wishful thinking that by escalating violence, the Hong Kong [special administrative region of China] government will yield to pressure, to satisfy the so-called political demands, I’m making this statement clear and loud here: that will not happen,”she said, according to Reuters.
The violence, fueled by demands for democratic reforms, is likely to further inflame passions in Hong Kong after a student who fell during an earlier protest succumbed to his injuries and died on Friday. The unrest also intensified after police over the weekend arrested six pro-democracy lawmakers, who have all been freed on bail, on charges of obstructing the local assembly during a raucous May 11 meeting over the extradition bill.
Elsewhere in the city on Monday, police fired tear gas and deployed a water cannon, and charged onto the campus of Chinese University, where students were protesting. Video posted online also showed a policeman on a motorcycle riding through a group of protesters in an apparent attempt to disperse them.
Protests began back in June
The protests, which began in June, were sparked over a proposed extradition law and have expanded to include demands for greater democracy and police accountability. Activists say Hong Kong’s autonomy and Western-style civil liberties, promised when the former British colony was returned to China in 1997, are crumbling.
On Sunday, police fired tear gas and protesters vandalized stores at shopping malls in anti-government demonstrations across Hong Kong. They targeted businesses whose owners are seen as pro-Beijing and also damaged the Sha Tin train station.
Police said they arrested at least 88 people on various charges, including unlawful assembly, possession of an offensive weapon, criminal damage and wearing masks at an unlawful assembly.