A march has been planned for Yuen Long on Saturday in protest of the violent mob attacks at the district’s metro station.

On Sunday night, a group of unknown men in white attacked people at the MTR station with bamboo sticks and metal bars, among other weapons. The incident left at least 45 people injured including journalists and a lawmaker. At least eleven have since been arrested over the attacks, with one arrested at the airport as he was trying to fly to Bangkok, reported Apple Daily.

Max Chung, a Hong Kong resident who has applied for police approval for Saturday’s “reclaim Yuen Long” march, plans to begin the protest at Shui Pin Tsuen Playground on Tai Yuk Road at 3pm. It will end at Yuen Long MTR station, where a rally will be held. Protesters will not enter Yuen Long’s villages, where the men in white retreated to on Sunday.

Yuen Long attacks
Unknown men in white attacking train passengers in Yuen Long.

Chung said police were concerned about the route and further meetings will be held on Wednesday. Chung said he hoped to obtain a letter of no objection for the rally that will give clearance for it to continue until midnight.

“Hong Kong people must act to respond to the July 21 terrorist attack at the Yuen Long MTR station… The government must respond as to whether the July 21 terrorist attack was a cross-border terrorist attack, and whether it will form an independent investigation commission to find out the truth,” he said, alluding to the idea that some of the attackers may have come from the mainland.

The Hong Kong police have said some of the arrested men had triad backgrounds. It rejected all claims that they colluded with the gangsters or turned a blind eye to the attacks until it was too late.

Max Chung
Max Chung.

‘Disturbing violence’

In response to the Yuen Long attacks, a US State Department spokesperson said reports of organised violence by criminal gangs against private citizens and journalists trying to do their jobs were “disturbing.”

“We urge all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from violence. It is important for the Hong Kong Government to respect the freedoms of speech and assembly, as guaranteed by the Basic Law,” the spokesperson said.

“Societies are best served when diverse political views are respected and can be freely expressed,” the spokesperson added. “The continued erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy puts at risk its long-established special status in international affairs.”

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The Yuen Long attacks came after a series of protests in different districts against the now-suspended controversial extradition bill. Protesters demanded a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, the retraction of the “riot” characterisation of the June 12 protests, the unconditional release of all arrested protesters, investigation of protests and use of police force, as well as universal suffrage.

Whilst Beijing has claimed the protests are a result of interference from the US, a spokesperson for the consulate-general in Hong Kong told HKFP on Wednesday that such claims were “ridiculous.”

“The ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong reflect the sentiment of the people of Hong Kong and their broad concerns about the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.”

‘The world is watching’

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement that increasingly brutal police tactics and pro-Beijing vigilantes were drawing blood in an effort to intimidate Hong Kongers back into submission. He said Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong is an indicator of how China’s rulers will behave abroad.

McConnell first proposed the US-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, whereby the US formally granted a special trade status to Hong Kong, treating it separately from mainland China.

“All nations who trade with the PRC should be watching the drama unfolding on the streets of Hong Kong,” he said. “The world is watching and wondering: If a government cannot respect the basic rights of people it claims as its own citizens, why on Earth would it be trusted to respect the rights and interests of its neighbors, its trading partners, or the companies that invest in its economy?”

Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell. Photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore.

He said he was grateful the US administration and the Congress, on a bipartisan basis, is re-examining America’s relationship with China.

“I am grateful for the bipartisan work my colleagues have done on this important issue, and I am confident Congress will continue to hold hearings and stay vigilant on the subject of autonomy and democracy in Hong Kong, as well as China’s overall strategy and its implications for the United States, our allies, and the entire world,” he said.

Meanwhile, US Senator Marco Rubio said in a video message that the violence on Sunday shows “the true nature of that government of that Communist Party.”

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.