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Monday, November 18, 2019, 14:40
Man set alight as violence in HK escalates
By Li Bingcun in Hong Kong
Monday, November 18, 2019, 14:40 By Li Bingcun in Hong Kong

Victim who challenged protesters suffers more than 40 percent burns

A man involved in a confrontation with rioters is splashed with flammable liquid and set on fire in Hong Kong on Nov 11. About 40 percent of his skin suffered severe burns. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Hong Kong on Nov 11 witnessed one of its most horrifying incidents amid protests that began in mid-June, as a masked, black-clad radical protester was caught on camera setting a man on fire.

The 57-year-old man suffered more than 40 percent burns and was under close medical supervision in the intensive care unit, a spokesman for the Hospital Authority said.

The spokesman also said that a protester who was shot with live ammunition in the Sai Wan Ho area on Nov 11 had his medical condition downgraded from critical to serious on Nov 12. A traffic police officer, who shot and wounded the black-clad rioter during a scuffle, had acted in “a split second” to protect his life, as well as those of others, when the protester tried to snatch his gun, according to Hong Kong police.

Police have classified the burning of the man as attempted murder, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. They were also appealing for any witnesses to come forward and provide information on the incident.

The protester set the victim wearing a green shirt alight after the man was doused with what is believed to be a flammable liquid, as he was seen quarreling with several other masked radicals in Ma On Shan in the New Territories region of northern Hong Kong, according to a video that went viral online.

The victim seemed to be challenging the protesters in the footage, asking them if they were aware of their Chinese identities.

The attacker is believed to have fled from the scene.

The victim was earlier seen trying to stop a number of protesters from vandalizing a subway station, according to another video.

In a news conference on Nov 11, the police confirmed the latest incident and called the setting of an innocent person on fire “inhumane”.

Strongly condemning the brutal act, a police spokesperson called out the perpetrator for “disregarding the life of others for the sake of political stance”.

A black-clad student tries to snatch a revolver from a traffic police officer despite warning by the officer before he gets shot on Nov 11. The officer also was wrestling with another rioter. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Lawyer Kennedy Wong Ying-ho said the incident was “absolutely shocking”, as radicals attacked a local resident who did not engage in any physical conflict with them.

Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told China Daily that the incident showed how the sentiment-driven radicals, armed with lethal weapons, posed a grave danger to unarmed citizens.

Lau also called for more powerful and effective measures from the police and the government to quell the violence and safeguard public safety.

On Nov 11, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stressed that the government of the special administrative region will not yield to the violence of rioters and will not accede to their demands. The rioters will never succeed, she said.

“If there’s still any wishful thinking that by escalating violence, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region 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,” Lam said.

She made the remarks at a media briefing, after citywide riots caused dozens of injuries among local residents.

Lam reiterated that violence will not provide any solution to the current problems of Hong Kong. She called on all people in Hong Kong, regardless of their political views, to agree that the priority was to stop the violence and restore calm in the city as soon as possible.

Hong Kong suffered a fresh round of violent protests on Nov 11 as protesters attacked and vandalized numerous subway stations, university property and other public amenities.

On the morning of Nov 11, rioters threw two petrol bombs into a subway car full of passengers at the Kwai Fong Station. The protesters also hurled petrol bombs into Tung Chung Station and started fires in Heng On Station.

Gu Mengyan contributed to this story.


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