A day after he was attacked, protest organiser Jimmy Sham said that the public should not seek retaliation by targeting non-Chinese communities in Hong Kong.
Sham, the convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), was attacked by men with hammers on Wednesday night on the streets of Tai Kok Tsui. He was hospitalised after suffering three wounds to his head, which required stitches, and injuries to his knees and elbows.
It was previously reported that the assailants were men of South Asian descent, but CHRF representatives said Sham could not identify the men or their ethnicity.
“Jimmy hopes that the public will not take any action against any ethnic group. Regardless of the identity, ethnicity, and the skin colour of the perpetrators, the root of the problem is Hong Kong’s systemic violence,” said Eric Lai, one of CHRF’s vice-convenors.
Lai said that Sham also expressed his wishes for the pro-democracy coalition’s march on Sunday to go ahead as planned, and called on the police to issue a letter of no objection.
“Jimmy hopes that Hong Kong citizens and the police can allow a safe, lawful and peaceful rally on Sunday,” he added. “The more people come out onto the streets, the greater our hope for victory.”
On social media and the Reddit-like forum LIHKG used by protesters, many said it would be a mistake to scapegoat the South Asian community. They urged demonstrators to take a level-headed approach.
“To avoid undercover cops from hurting the march [on October 20], we must protect Chungking Mansion and the Kowloon Mosque from being vandalised,” wrote one user, in a post that drew over 6,000 upvotes.
An accompanying poster is now starting to circulate, so this issue is being taken seriously. We may expect to see this message appear on the Tsim Sha Tsui Lennon Wall quite soon pic.twitter.com/ast6iUx52s
— Aaron Mc Nicholas (@aaronMCN) October 17, 2019
Another user also set out a list of promises, saying that protesters will not indiscriminately assault South Asians or damage their shops. The post received over 2,800 upvotes.
In a statement, the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong condemned the “barbaric and brutal” attack on Sham. The group said that the Muslim community stands together with the people of Hong Kong, and will continue to strive for “equality, peace and harmony.”
Widespread condemnation of attack
As of Thursday, Sham remained hospitalised and was not able to speak to the press in person. He earlier issued a statement thanking the staff of Kwong Wah Hospital for providing medical care, and said his injuries were less severe compared to other protesters in recent months.
“I feel everyone’s love and support, and sorry for letting you worry! I will recover as soon as possible, and maintain my belief in rational, peaceful and non-violent protest and calling for the ‘five demands,’” he wrote.
Jimmy Sham posted at 12:45am that he has received stitches for his wounds, and thanked Kwong Wah Hospital’s medical staff.
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) October 16, 2019
As the city entered its 19th week of protest and unrest, triggered by an ill-fated extradition bill, protesters have continued to demand accountability for alleged police brutality, amnesty for those arrested, universal suffrage and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.
Wednesday’s attack on Sham sparked outrage from the CHRF, democrats and human rights groups. Joshua Rosenzweig, Head of Amnesty International’s East Asia Regional Office, called the incident “shocking in its brutality.”
“The authorities must promptly conduct an investigation into this horrifying attack, bring all those responsible to justice and send a clear message that targeting activists will have consequences. Anything less would send a chilling signal that such attacks are tolerated by the authorities,” Rosenzweig said.
Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung also said the attack against Sham was “totally unacceptable” and that he attached a lot of attention to the case.
Speaking to the press on Wednesday night, police said that Sham was attacked by four or five masked men, who were wielding knives and hammers. Then men were suspected to be of non-Chinese ethnicity.
Police strongly condemned the attack and said it would take the case seriously and continue investigations. No arrests had been made as of Thursday afternoon.
Uniformed police officers will be arranged for Sham’s protection, a police representative added.
The incident comes just weeks after Sham was assaulted by masked men wielding a baseball bat and knife in Jordan.
Sham is also a candidate for the Sha Tin District Council’s Lek Yuen constituency, replacing Raphael Wong. Multiple district council election candidates have been assaulted while canvassing.
The CHRF has organised huge protests during the summer against an extradition bill that would have enabled extraditions to China. They estimate that up to two million people marched at the height of the protests, now entering their fifth month.
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