HONG KONG – A group of men dressed in white and armed with metal rods and sticks attacked dozens of protesters at a Hong Kong subway station overnight, leaving at least 36 injured.
On Sunday night, the mob attacked a group of people at the Yuen Long station who were returning from a pro-democracy protest in the city’s downtown area.
One of the injured was reportedly in critical condition.
Democratic Party spokesperson Lam Cheuk-ting, who was also among those injured, told local media that he was attacked by dozens of people whom he described as members of a gang and criticized the police for taking more than an hour to intervene.
The attack by this unidentified group, which took place around midnight, was all over Hong Kong’s social media, where videos were shared that appeared to show the brutality of the group’s actions.
In these videos, the mob could be seen attacking anyone dressed in a black T-shirt. Black is the color of choice for demonstrators engaged in the pro-democracy protests that have been recently sweeping over Hong Kong.
Outrage among the pro-democracy opposition erupted after images of lawmaker Junius Ho emerged in which he could be seen conversing and taking pictures with the attackers.
Ho denied having anything to do with the attackers.
Over the past seven weeks, Hong Kong has been the stage for demonstrations that began as a protest against a contentious extradition bill that, according to lawyers and human rights activists, would allow the extradition to mainland China of fugitives accused of certain crimes.
The bill’s opponents said that the new law could mean that local activists, critical journalists and dissidents in Hong Kong could be sent to mainland China for trial. Its defenders, meanwhile, claimed that it merely sought to fill a legal vacuum, as no formal extradition treaties exist between Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China.
The bill was scrapped following a rise in tensions after the mass protests engulfed Hong Kong’s government district.
However, the protesters’ demands, which were initially focused on stopping the extradition bill, have morphed into catch-all calls for democratic mechanisms to be implemented in the Special Administrative Region.
A former British colony, Hong Kong passed to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, although it still retains a degree of independence from Beijing.
According to the handover deal between London and Beijing, this political system – which includes certain freedoms not recognized in mainland China – must be preserved until 2047.