Student activist group Scholarism and the pro-democracy Civic Party have been named as supporting protesters who took part in the unrest in Mong Kok in a signed commentary published by the overseas edition of the People’s Daily on Tuesday.
The commentary, entitled “Hong Kong must say ‘no’ to violence,” cited Hong Kong media when it said that protesters “received without exception the legal support of organisations such as the Civic Party and Scholarism.”
It said that most of the protesters were “‘localists’ and ‘separatists,’ including ‘Hong Kong Indigenous,’ ‘Civic Passion,’ ‘Valiant Frontier,’ and ‘Wan Chin’s Disciples.’”
“The riot organisers posted a ‘command’ online. Quite few rioters wore masks and held homemade shields, showing that the riot was an organised and planned event. The rioters’ statement that it is there to ‘protect the special character of the night market’ is only an excuse,” it said
It added that the unrest was an episode of “pure violence devoid of logic.”
The piece cited comments from pro-Beijing scholar Lau Siu Kei and lawyer Junius Ho, who both called for the enactment of Article 23 in recent days.
Article 23 is a controversial security law within the Basic Law that, in part, allows the Hong Kong government to prohibit acts of subversion, sedition, secession, or treason against the central government. Its proposed enactment incited a mass demonstration on July 1, 2003.
Scholarism said last week that the police tried to link the group up with the Mong Kok unrest after arresting one of its members, Lam Shun-hin, who was involved in the protest. Alvin Yeung, a member of the Civil Party, provided legal aid to arrested protesters after the events in Mong Kok, and was criticised for “helping the rioters.”
In response to the People’s Daily commentary, Yeung told HKFP: “I am a person, I am a human being, I’m a lawyer, before my Civic Party role. So any suggestion that our role in different protests or our role as a pro bono lawyers have links to do with the Civic Party is completely groundless and outrageous.”
“Those who make this suggestion have no respect or understanding of Hong Kong, the legal profession, or Hong Kong politics at all.” He added that the Civic Party has never instructed or ordered its lawyer members to act.
Yeung said that he was already working as a pro bono lawyer before the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests: “It has absolutely nothing to do with whether we support separatists or not. We simply think pro bono lawyers have important roles.”
HKFP has reached out to Joshua Wong, convenor of Scholarism, for comment.