Hong Kong singer and pro-democracy activist Denise Ho was attacked with red paint in Taiwan on Sunday, ahead of a protest in support of Hong Kong’s protests movement.

何韻詩出席台港遊行 突遭潑紅漆攻擊

何韻詩受到攻擊後的表現好冷靜,令人佩服,另外攻擊者也被逮捕囉!#香港 #反送中 #台港遊行 #何韻詩 新聞連結:【何韻詩出席台港遊行 突遭潑紅漆攻擊】https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/breakingnews/2930681

Posted by 自由時報 on Sunday, 29 September 2019

One of the assailants, dressed in protest gear, suddenly emerged behind Ho while she was speaking with local reporters on the street, dousing her head with paint. A number of reporters were also affected, though Ho continued with the interview. The two men were apprehended shortly afterwards and taken to a nearby police station.

Ho’s original plan to take part in the march was disrupted, but she said at a press conference two hours later that she would pursue legal action against the duo who had assaulted her.

September 29 Taiwan Hong Kong protest
(L-R) Denise Ho and Freddy Lim at the press conference. Photo: Teng Pei-ju.

Ho said she felt angry, as opposed to frightened, and that it gave her greater determination to remain defiant: “We will not back down in the face of violence” she said.

On Twitter, she added: “We should not be stopped by foolish people and their foolish acts. When they try to halt you, push back as hard as you can.”

Accompanying Ho to meet the press was Taiwan’s independent legislator Freddy Lim. He said the two men are believed to be members of local groups promoting Taiwan’s eventual “unification” with China. He said he suspected the incident was linked to organised crime.

September 29 Taiwan Hong Kong protest
A demonstrator passes a wall full of posters. Photo: Teng Pei-ju.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said via a Facebook statement that the two assailants would face severe legal punishment. “Do not attempt to challenge Taiwan’s democracy and rule of law,” said Tsai, adding that the government would not allow similar behaviour to occur again in Taiwan.

Thousands attend rally

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people demonstrated on Sunday afternoon in support of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests that have rocked the semi-autonomous city for over three months.

September 29 Taiwan Hong Kong protest
Demonstrators chant “Five Demands, Not One Less”. Photo: Teng Pei-ju.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office claimed last Thursday that the protest was a scheme concocted by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and pro-Taiwan independence forces with the intention to cause havoc to Taiwanese society and interfere with Hong Kong’s affairs.

Nevertheless, Ma’s message – nor heavy rain – deterred crowds from taking to Taipei’s streets. Organisers said in the evening that the number of participants in Sunday’s march surpassed 100,000, even though crowds had gradually thinned out with a rally continuing well into the night.

September 29 Taiwan Hong Kong protest
A farmer shows her support for Hong Kong’s protests by giving away free dragon fruit. Photo: Teng Pei-ju.

Earlier, demonstrators marched on the city centre, past government buildings and shopping thoroughfares. Many wore protest safety gear and sang the protest anthem Glory to Hong Kong along the way. Many people held posters referencing Hong Kong demonstrators’ five demands, while others flew flags carrying pro-Taiwan independence and anti-Chinese authoritarianism slogans.

Though Hong Kong’s extradition bill – which sparked the protests – has been withdrawn, demonstrators are still demanding a fully independent probe into police behaviour, amnesty for those arrested, universal suffrage and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.” 

Sunday’s event in Taipei was organised by a number of Taiwan and Hong Kong pro-democracy and student associations, all as part of a global solidarity initiative. In addition to independence-leaning political parties, such as the DPP, nearly 200 civil groups promoting human rights, democracy, as well as professional associations joined the march.

September 29 Taiwan Hong Kong protest
DPP members take part in the march. Photo: Teng Pei-ju.

Aside from the event in Taipei, other rallies took place in four cities across the island on Sunday. In particular, the rally in Kaohsiung drew 5,000 participants, while those who attended the gathering in Tainan attracted 2,000 attendees, according to organisers.

Wearing safety gear and giving high fives to fellow demonstrators passing them on the street, two Hong Kong students – surnamed Chan and Ng – said they were glad to see such a high level of support from Taiwanese. Chan added that he did not return to Hong Kong this summer, but the march provided him with an opportunity to join forces with the protesters back home.

September 29 Taiwan Hong Kong protest
“Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time.” Photo: Teng Pei-ju.

A group of parents also pushed their babies in prams through the procession, despite the poor weather.

Lin, a mother of two children, aged six and five, said Hong Kong’s circumstances worried her greatly and that she felt compelled to voice her support for Hong Kong  people.

September 29 Taiwan Hong Kong protest
Parents join the march with babies in prams. Photo: Teng Pei-ju.

“We were so used to taking freedom for granted, thinking that we would never lose it,” said Lin. “But what has happened in Hong Kong made me realize the same situation could also occur in Taiwan,” she added.

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Teng Pei-ju is a journalist based in Taipei, Taiwan, covering mostly politics and diplomacy.