The Law Society of Hong Kong has “strongly condemned” an assault on a lawyer at the anti-national security law protest on Sunday, saying that people with opposing political views must not be “silenced” by violence.
According to a police post shared on Facebook, a 41-year-old man was beaten by dozens of protesters with umbrellas on 70 Lee Garden Road in Causeway Bay at around 3.30 pm, following a dispute between the man and demonstrators who were blocking roads. The victim suffered a gash to his head, hand and back and was sent to Ruttonjee Hospital for treatment.
The man was later identified as Chan Tze-chin, a local solicitor and member of the Law Society. In response to local media enquiries, the society’s President Melissa Pang slammed the attack as “distressing and infuriating,” while adding that violent behaviour would not be accepted by society.
“Civil disobedience is not a permit for breaking the law, violence is also not a permit for the attackers,” Pang said, adding that the aorta on Chan’s neck was stabbed with an umbrella as well.
She added: ” [People] must not use violence to silence people with different political views. If this is the kind of freedom everyone is fighting for, then it is the sorrow of Hong Kong.”
The Hospital Authority said that – as of 6 pm on Sunday – six people had been hospitalised after feeling unwell or suffering an injury at the protest. A 51-year-old woman is in critical condition, while two men and two women are stable, with another woman already discharged.
The police said they are actively investigating the case and said they would bring “callous criminals” to justice.
Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying said on Facebook that the “803 Fund” – a crowd-funded cash reward initiative for tip-offs against “illegal acts” at protests – would offer HK$300,000 as reward for catching the “rioters” who attacked Chan.
“This incident is how rioters respond to opposition against the implementation of national security law in Hong Kong by Western countries and politicians,” Leung wrote.
The fund – led by Leung – was launched in August 2019, amid the city-wide protests triggered by a now-withdrawn extradition bill.
Last month, Beijing enacted laws to prevent, stop and punish behaviours in Hong Kong that it deems a threat to national security. The legislation was inserted into the city’s mini-constitution, bypassing the local legislature, in order to criminalise subversion, secession, foreign interference and terrorism. The move – which gives police sweeping new powers – alarmed democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China.