In Hong Kong, seven pro-democracy lawmakers have been granted bail after appearing in a local court in the afternoon of Nov. 11.
The seven lawmakers—Eddie Chu, Au Nok-hin, Raymond Chan, Gary Fan, Kwok Ka-ki, Leung Yiu-chung, and Lam Cheuk-ting—were accused of violating article 19 of the Legislative Council Ordinance, which deals with assault and obstruction of members of the city’s Legislative Council (LegCo).
Police brought charges against the lawmakers because of a May 11 incident, when several lawmakers got into a scuffle while debating the since-withdrawn extradition bill that ignited the ongoing protests.
Local prosecutors alleged that the seven lawmakers obstructed three members of the pro-Beijing party Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) on May 11, according to local media.
The seven appeared in the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Monday, and they were released on bail of $500 Hong Kong dollars (about $64) each. They are scheduled to appear in court again on Jan. 13.
Tanya Chan, convener of LegCo’s pro-democracy camp, called the legal action against her fellow lawmakers “political prosecution,” in a press conference outside the court.
“Instead of giving us a positive response regarding our five demands, our government laid charges against our legislators who pointed out the problems of this evil law,” Chan said, according to local broadcaster RTHK.
The Hong Kong protests, now in their sixth month, have demanded that the city government, headed by pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam, fulfill their five demands, which include calls for universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into instances of police use of force during recent demonstrations.
On Monday, Hong Kong was besieged with violence as protesters and police clashed at several districts, numerous universities, as well as the business and financial district of the Central area.
The clash at Central broke out at noon, when police fired tear gas in an attempt to disperse protesters. Some of the protesters were local workers who did not have a facial mask on as they used their breaks to participate in the protest.
Protesters could be heard shouting “murderers” at the police. An unnamed man told RTHK that police were overacting to the protest at the financial district and he did not see any reason why the police had to be fully equipped to disperse people.
The shout of “murderers” was the result of a 21-year-old man being shot at close range in the neighborhood of Sai Wan Ho on the morning of Nov. 11.
According to Hong Kong media outlet HK01, the 21-year-old man, surnamed Chow, was a graduate from the local Salesian English School in Shau Kei Wan.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Raymond Chan, one of the seven out on bail, took to Facebook at around 4 p.m. local time, saying that he had just been in touch with the school’s principal, and Chow was able to talk.
Earlier, Hong Kong media reported that Chow was in critical condition.
The shooting has drawn international attention. U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) took to Twitter to say, “The #HongKong Police are out of control & escalating the level of violence against unarmed people.”
McGovern also urged Senate Major Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to quickly bring the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act to the Senate floor this week.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) wrote on Twitter: “Tiananmen Square 2.0—This is no police force, it is a freedom suppressing, anti-democracy squad.”
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, writing on her Facebook page, said that Beijing and Hong Kong should respond to Hongkongers not with bullets, but with a promise of democracy.
Tsai added that opening live rounds against unarmed citizens will only worsen existing problems.