Hong Kong descended into violence on Monday as a student demonstrator was shot by police and a pro-Beijing man was set on fire by a masked person and suffered horrendous burns.
Protesters, who had started a city-wide day of action aimed at paralyzing the financial hub, reacted to the morning shooting by rampaging through train stations, barricading streets and vandalizing shops.
Street brawls also intensified along with escalating clashes between police and protesters in many areas of Hong Kong.
At about 1pm, a pro-Beijing man surnamed Leung quarreled with some people on a bridge in Ma On Shan in the New Territories, HK01.com reported.
A masked person doused the man with a flammable liquid and set him ablaze during the argument. The horrifying scene was captured on mobile phones and quickly went viral. The fire was put off within seconds, according to the video. He continued to talk to other people after the incident.
Police said the man suffered life-threatening injuries and was in a critical condition in a Hong Kong hospital. The background of the attacker remains unclear.
Prior to this, Leung was seen chasing some masked people in a MTR station and cursing some residents on the bridge. He criticized the protesters for not being “Chinese people.” He said he would call the police to arrest them.
Police condemned the violent behavior of the attacker and said they were investigating the case.
There have been a growing number of cases of Pro-Beijing citizens, or so-called “blue ribbons,” being attacked on the streets over the past few months.
Last Saturday, a pro-Beijing man said he would call the police to give them the right to enter Beverly Garden, a private housing estate. His move provoked the crowd and he was beaten up.
In many other cases, “blue ribbons” attacked young pro-democracy people and called the police, who tend to arrest the victims, not the attackers.
On October 6, a taxi driver who drove into a group of anti-extradition protesters and knocked down three people on a Sham Shui Po pavement was beaten by protesters. A woman lost her legs in the accident and faced a rioting charge, while the taxi driver was not arrested or charged with dangerous driving.
He was later granted HK$520,000 (US$66,300) from a pro-Beijing group for being a “patriotic driver.”
On the same day, a former Hong Kong TV actress surnamed Ma started a quarrel with protesters and then kicked one of them. She was punched in the face.
Later she was praised by China Central Television, a mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China, as a “patriotic actress.” It was reported that she was then approached by some movie directors.
Traffic system paralyzed
On Monday, traffic in Hong Kong was paralyzed as demonstrators disrupted MTR services and road transport.
From 7am, black-shirted protesters gathered in different districts in the city, putting debris on key roads to block traffic.
The Cross Harbour and Tate’s Cairn tunnels were affected, as were major roads including Tuen Mun Road, Tolo Highway and the area around Po Yap Road and Tong Yin Street in Tseung Kwan O, as well as Yuen Long and Kwai Fong, RTHK reported.
Other protesters obstructed the doors of MTR trains. Someone set a fire on a train in Kwai Fong station, forcing the MTR Corp to suspend services at many stations. People threw debris on the tracks of the East Rail Line and there were no services between Fo Tan and Lo Wu and Lok Ma Chau.
On the West Rail Line, services between Yuen Long and Tuen Mun were suspended, with trains running every 10 minutes between Hung Hom and Yuen Long.
The MTR Corp said it shut down 25 stations on Monday.
Police said “radical protesters” had set up makeshift barricades at multiple locations across the territory, obstructing traffic.
In the morning, major universities suspended their classes for the day due to transport problems.
At noon, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, a pro-democracy trade union, urged the Education Bureau to suspend afternoon classes, but the suggestion was not taken up by the authority.
As the Education Bureau refused to suspend classes in primary and secondary schools, many parents and caretakers had to spend extra time sending their children to schools and bringing them back.
On Monday, protesters rallied on the streets, calling for the government to disband the police force and set up an independent commission of inquiry to look into police brutality.
They called the police “murderers” for the death of Chow Tsz-lok, a 22-year-old university student who was seriously injured during a protest in Tseung Kwan O at 1am on November 4 and who died last Friday.
The crowd also called the police “rapists” due to the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl by four policemen in Tsuen Wan police station on September 27 after she was arrested. The lawyer of the girl filed a complaint to police on October 22, but police denied the complaint had been received.
In Sai Wo Ho, a 21-year-old student of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) was shot by a police officer with live ammunition on Monday morning. He was sent to a hospital and remained in a critical situation.
IVE said in a statement it felt sad about the incident and it had sent a letter to the Security Bureau to demand an investigation.
Protesters moved from place to place on Monday. Some went into private real estate and university campuses.
Police fired tear gas canisters in many districts including Central, Tseung Kwan O, Sai Wan Ho, Chai Wan and Wong Tai Sin to try to disperse the crowds. Some tear gas spilled into a secondary school in Tseung Kwan O and an elderly home in Sai Wan Ho.
Riot police chased masked students into university campuses. They used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper balls to disperse the students, who tried to protect themselves with bed mattresses. They arrested some protesters.
During lunchtime, masked workers and black-clad protesters gathered in Central to call for the government to fulfill their five demands, which include the implementation of genuine universal suffrage.
Riot officers blocked the junction of Des Voeux Road Central and Pedder Street and fired tear gas at the crowd.
Protesters blocked roads in Central, walked to Admiralty and returned to Central. Stand-offs and clashes continued in different districts across the city in the afternoon.