The acting president of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) Student’s Union has resigned from his post and fled the city, citing fears for his personal safety.
In his resignation letter on Thursday, Davin Wong said he was attacked by a masked man in white while waiting for a bus near Southorn Playground, Wan Chai, in the early hours of August 30.
Wong said he was hit by rattan canes on his neck and left shoulder. He believed the attack was premeditated, as two other men waiting at the bus stop were left unharmed.
Hours following the incident, Civil Human Rights Front convener Jimmy Sham and another activist were attacked by masked men on two separate occasions. On the same day, police arrested 28 activists, including Wong’s predecessor Althea Suen and democracy activist Joshua Wong.
Wong said he was forced to make the “one-way trip” as he feared for his life and his family’s safety. He did not specify where he had travelled to.
“I will never forgive myself for leaving Hong Kong at such a critical time,” Wong said. But the student activist said he had no choice but to flee, as his activism had put his family at “a sensitive, stressful, and sometimes dangerous position.”
Describing the decision as a “lifelong shame,” Wong added: “No one should be compelled to leave the city they love and belong to.”
In a statement released on Friday, HKU expressed “grave concerns” over Wong’s situation. “The University has worked with Davin to provide necessary assistance and support. We wish to reiterate the University’s stance in opposing violence of any kind,” it said.
— Davin Wong (@da_vinwong) September 13, 2019
Hong Kong’s sumer of protest was initially sparked by a controversial bill that would have allowed local authorities to transfer fugitives to their mainland counterparts. The demonstrations have since morphed into sometimes violent displays of dissent against Beijing’s encroachment, alleged police violence, and other community grievances.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s announcement last Wednesday of a plan to withdraw the bill has done little to quell protests, with demonstrators vowing to continue.
But activists are increasingly concerned about their personal safety. There have been numerous incidents whereby protesters and passers-by were attacked by masked men or faced police action which rights NGOs have deemed excessive.
On Thursday, four United Nations-appointed independent rights experts expressed concern over “credible reports of repeated instances” where the authorities failed to ensure safe environments for people to engage in peaceful assemblies.
The Hong Kong government has repeatedly condemned acts of violence and vandalism by “radical protesters.” Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said Wednesday that officials have been studying the possibility of enacting emergency legislation as well as a ban on wearing masks at protests.
Over 1,100 people have been arrested in relation to the protests. At least a hundred have been charged with crimes such as rioting and taking part in an unlawful assembly.
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