Hong Kong police have acquired the medical records of a woman who suffered an eye injury during clashes on August 11 after they successfully obtained a court warrant.

The woman, who was hurt in the right eye, had become a symbol of the city’s anti-government protest movement and is widely seen as a victim of police violence. Eyewitnesses and local media attributed her injury to a beanbag round, but police have said that the facts were unclear.

bean bag round protester eye shield
A suspected bean bag round stuck in a protester’s eye shield. Photo: SocRec.

At a Tuesday press briefing, Senior Superintendent Steve Li confirmed that the Hospital Authority (HA) handed over the woman’s information. The HA previously refused to provide the records but complied after police returned with a warrant.

The victim has filed a legal challenge against police for their refusal to disclose the contents of the warrant and other related information. The case will be heard at the High Court at 10:30am on Thursday.

According to a forum post by the victim’s friend, the court has asked for police representatives to attend the hearing.

Last week, the victim’s lawyers wrote to the police telling them not to obtain the medical records, but to no avail.

steve li
Senior Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah. Photo: Citizen News.

Li said on Tuesday that the move was backed by a court warrant, and that police “did not need to explain themselves to any third party” because the matter was between police and the HA.

On the night of August 11, the woman suffered a serious injury to her right eye in the vicinity of the Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station on Nathan Road. She was a short distance away from violent clashes between protesters and police, which saw demonstrators use slingshots, and throw Molotov cocktails and other objects. Police responded with tear gas and crowd control projectiles.

Li, from the Organised Crimes and Triad Bureau, said that “most of the pieces have fallen into place” in the investigation into the woman’s case, but they were still lacking the victim’s testimony.

august 11 tsim sha tsui china extradition (4) (Copy)
Protesters on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui on August 11. File photo: May James/HKFP.

Police can only comment on the cause of her injury after hearing from her, and asking why she was present and her precise location, he added. On multiple occasions since August 11, police representatives have said that they could not proceed with the investigation unless the victim came forward.

However, the Tuesday forum post claimed that her lawyers had written to the police and the Department of Justice on September 2, 3, 6 and 9. All of those letters received no reply, the post read.

‘Eye of Horus’

On August 26, the injured woman appeared in a brief video message condemning “police brutality” and expressed support for the pro-democracy movement.

YouTube video

The woman’s right eye was covered with gauze, and she wore a mask and sunglasses. She did not comment on the state of her injury, only thanking people at home and abroad for their support.

Citing the “eye of Horus” from Egyptian mythology, the woman said at the time that she hoped her right eye could become a “beacon of hope that supports Hongkongers and ward off evil.”

The citywide protests have entered their 14th week, sparked by a soon-to-be-withdrawn extradition bill which would have allowed case-by-case fugitive transfers to China. Since June, large-scale peaceful protests have morphed into sometimes violent displays of dissent over Beijing’s encroachment and alleged police brutality.

Accident and emergency hospital
File photo: GovHK.

Separately, the Hospital Authority reported on Tuesday that it has detected an “advanced persistent threat cyberattack” from September 2 onwards. It said the attack came from an unidentified source and “appropriate measures” were taken to block the intrusion.

“No patient information has been leaked and the attack has not caused any impact on HA services. An investigation into the attack is in progress and necessary cybersecurity measures have already been stepped up,” the HA said in a statement.

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Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.