World Leaders, Rights Groups Condemn Police Shooting of Hong Kong Protester

October 2, 2019 Updated: October 2, 2019

The police shooting and wounding of an 18-year-old protester on Oct.1 has drawn criticism from around the world.

“This is a new low,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) wrote in an Oct. 1 tweet responding to the use of live ammunition during clashes between police and protesters.

“The United States must not look the other way while the democratic aspirations of the people of Hong Kong are viciously trampled.”

Oct. 1 marked the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s takeover of the country, which Hong Kong protesters declared as a “day of mourning.”

In opposition to what they see as the regime’s creeping encroachment into the city’s autonomy, over 100,000 protesters took to the streets on Oct. 1. The day later descended into chaos with cat-and-mouse chases and clashes across the city, with police using tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannon to disperse protesters.

That afternoon, an officer shot a teen protester in the chest at close range during a scuffle in Tsuen Wan. The 18-year-old, later identified as Tsang Chi-kin, collapsed to the ground.

Tsang was shot in his left lung, three centimeters (just over 1 inch) from his heart, according to local media. He was stable as of Oct. 2 after undergoing emergency surgery, local media said.

Hong Kong’s police chief later defended the officer who shot Tsang, saying the officer acted in self-defense and that his use of force was “legal and reasonable.”

“This is what 70 years of Communist rule looks like in China—freedom is trampled and dissent is silenced,” Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in an Oct. 1 tweet, referring to the shooting.

“America still hears you, Hong Kong,” he continued.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) condemned Hong Kong authorities’ continued use of violence against protesters, saying that the Chinese regime “has always squashed dissent with force.”

“It is darkly fitting that on the 70th anniversary of the PRC, its agents would be reduced to using force against protesters in Hong Kong who seek to preserve basic personal freedoms,” McConnell said in an Oct. 1 statement.

He called on the U.S. leaders to “pause to recognize the many millions of lives lost under the Chinese communist rule.”

“If this is how a great power treats its own citizens, just think how it will treat foreign countries who fall under China’s growing economic and military influence,” he said.

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A protester holds a placard, mimicking an eye chart that reads “you can kill the dreamer but you can’t kill the dream”, marches with others from Chater Garden towards Central district in Hong Kong on Oct. 2, 2019. (Mohd Rasfan/AFP via Getty Images)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) similarly called on U.S. administration to “push back” against Beijing’s “assault on the people of Hong Kong,” and called the shooting “unacceptable.”

“The people of Hong Kong are engaged in an existential battle over what the future of Hong Kong will look like. They should know America stands with them,” Cruz said in an Oct. 1 statement.

World Voices

British and European Union officials both spoke out against the police shooting.

“Whilst there is no excuse for violence, the use of live ammunition is disproportionate, and only risks inflaming the situation,” British foriegn secretary Dominic Raad said in an Oct. 1 statement.

Raad also called on the Hong Kong government to address the legitimate concerns of the protesters.

Maja Kocijancic, a European Union foreign policy spokesperson, urged for “de-escalation and restraint” in Hong Kong.

“The right to assembly and the right to protest peacefully must continue to be upheld in line with the (Hong Kong) basic law and international commitments,” she told reporters during a briefing on Oct. 1, according to Hong Kong Free Press.

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A student out her hand on the chest during a strike to condemn police shooting of a teenager in Hong Kong, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Hong Kong Watch, a U.K.-based human rights non profit, said the incident was “part of a wider cycle of police brutality,” citing a recent Amnesty International report that showed “an alarming pattern” of violence used by Hong Kong police, including beating protesters during arrest and the alleged torture of detained demonstrators.

Man-Kei Tam, the director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, also appealed to Hong Kong officials to “urgently review their approach in policing the protests” and “launch a prompt and effective investigation” into the incident.

“Police should only use lethal force in response to an imminent threat of death or serious injury and only as a last resort,” Tam said in an Oct. 1 statement.

“The shooting exposes the true face of a totalitarian regime, and is just the latest tragic emblem of 70 years of human rights disasters in China under the rule of the Communist Party of China,” Sharon Hom from advocacy group Human Rights in China said in a statement.

Follow Eva on Twitter: @EvaSailEast
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