Victims of the Yuen Long mob attacks last year have filed a civil suit against the police commissioner, accusing the force of failing to protect residents.

On July 21, 2019, a stick-wielding mob wearing white shirts indiscriminately attacked civilians, journalists and a lawmaker at Yuen Long’s MTR station, leaving dozens injured. Hong Kong police have been accused of colluding with the assailants after officers were seen walking away from the scene and emergency calls went unanswered. Reinforcements did not arrive until around 39 minutes later.

July 21 Yuen Long civil suit
Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Seven victims and pro-democracy lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, who was injured in the attack, announced at a press conference on Tuesday that they had filed a civil suit against Police Commissioner Chris Tang, alleging that officers did not fulfil their duties by allowing the attacks to continue and failing to maintain public order. The group asked for HK$2.7 million in compensation.

‘Blatant collusion’

Lam said the group will use the civil suit to ask the force to reveal details about the incident including police deployment that day.

“We have very strong reasons to believe that Chris Tang, on July 21, intentionally allowed triads to indiscriminately attack residents,” he said.

Lam added that police received intelligence that an attack may take place at least two days before the incident and that two officers had left the scene of the attack without taking any actions.

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“This was blatant collusion between the police and triads and marks a historic turning point for Hong Kong. We were unable to trust the police from that point onwards,” Lam said.

He said that despite a large amount of evidence, only seven people had been charged in connection with the July 21 incident. He added that no “mastermind” figures have been prosecuted.

The lawmaker also said that he has provided statements to police and the Independent Commission Against Corruption over the attack.

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A chef, surnamed So, was one of the first people to be attacked on July 21, at around 9pm. “I said I was not a protester. I was just coming off work. But I was still attacked by 20 or more people with bamboo sticks,” he said.

Ms Lam, in a wheelchair, said she had been travelling back to Yuen Long via the West Rail Line at around 10:40pm after joining a protest march on Hong Kong Island in the afternoon.

She said that people were asking those inside the train for help as the mob carried out the attack on the floor below. She said she went downstairs to have a look and tripped on the steps as she ran away from the assailants.

“I could not calm myself even when I went back home. I was so unhappy,” she added.

July 21 Yuen Long civil suit
Victims Mr So (left), Ms Lam (centre), and Mr Chui (right). Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Ms Lam’s legs were injured in the incident and had to undergo an operation. She was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and prescribed medication to help with sleep.

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Police Public Relations Branch Senior Superintendent Kong Wing-cheung claimed in an interview with i-Cable TV last year that the July 21 incident occurred because “a group of people had led some protesters to Yuen Long.”

A group of protesters led a march in Yuen Long last week accusing Lam Cheuk-ting of being behind the mob attack.

But Lam and his fellow Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan played a clip submitted by a resident showing the mob attacking a woman at Yuen Long MTR station at 10:42pm, three minutes before the lawmaker arrived at 10:45pm.


Posted by 林卓廷 LAM CHEUK TING on Monday, 20 January 2020

Wan condemned Kong’s remarks as misrepresenting the truth. “Facts are facts, police cannot twist the truth. Anyone with a conscience would not say such a thing,” he said.

Meanwhile, police on Tuesday said that they had arrested 186 people in Yuen Long over triad-related activities in the last two weeks.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

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.