Scholarism leader Joshua Wong suffered cuts to his face when he and his girlfriend Tiffany Chin were attacked by a couple aged in their 20s as they walked home from the cinema on Sunday night.

Wong was punched in the face and Tiffany was dragged to the ground by her hair during the unprovoked attack in Tai Kok Tsui, according to Scholarism’s Facebook page.

The couple were walking towards Mong Kok MTR station after watching a movie at Olympian City shortly after midnight when the attack happened, according to Wong.

“At 12:02, me and Tiffany were walking on Elm Street when we saw a couple, both looked like they were in their 20s. When we passed them, about two metres away from them, the man suddenly charged towards me, grabbed my neck and punched me in my left eye. My glasses dropped and I fell down,” Wong said on Facebook.

joshua wong attack
Student activist Joshua Wong was punched in the eye and nose by attackers. On the left is his girlfriend Tiffany Chin. Photo: Stand News.

The assailant then turned to Chin who was attempting to film the attack using her phone. She was dragged to the ground by her hair and suffered scratches on her legs. Wong said the attacker then hit and kicked him, as he lay on the ground.

“I asked them why they hit me. They ran across the road on Elm Street. Me and Tiffany chased them on Elm Street and asked why they hit us. The man, around 20-something, walked towards us although the woman did not say anything or move,” Wong told reporters later. He said the attacker, about 1.8-metres in height, rolled up the sleeves of his jacket and threatened to hit him again.

The couple called the police and later went to the Kwong Wah Hospital to seek treatment.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Scholarism condemned the attack and urged a thorough investigation into the incident. The statement also said the attack did not appear to be premeditated. Wong told reporters he believed the attack was related to his political activities and political views.

Speaking to Commercial Radio on Monday morning, Chin said she found it surprising that the attackers were so young. “Usually, so-called ‘blue ribbons’ we come across are those of an older age. But those who hit us yesterday dressed and looked quite young,” she said.

Clashes broke out in Mong Kok last night as localists and pro-Beijing groups held rival protests. Five people were arrested. It is unclear whether the attack and the protest are related.

At 9:47am on Monday Wong posted a message on his Facebook page saying he was on his way home to get some sleep after talking to the police. In the message, he said the attack showed social activists not only face harassment from “blue ribbons” in demonstrations, but also risk being attacked in their daily lives.

“Please don’t say things like ‘we are all Joshua Wong’, today is not about universal suffrage, it’s about the little freedom and rule of law left in Hong Kong that is being wiped out by these assailants. The road ahead is long and difficult, but let’s hold our original intention and keep walking on this bumpy road of democracy,” the message said.

In a Facebook statement by the Hong Kong Professional Teachers Union (HKPTU), the HKPTU strongly condemned the violence and demanded the police to arrest the suspect. The HKPTU also called for the government to protect citizens personal safety and freedom of expression.

Wong is an iconic figure of last year’s Umbrella Movement, during which thousands of people occupied several main roads in the city demanding “true universal suffrage.” Wong and Scholarism has recently been advocating for admending the Basic Law in order to draw attention to questionable articles such as the national security law Article 23.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.