Hong Kong Political Update
Sign up for myFT Daily Digest and be the first to learn about Hong Kong political news.
When I left the Hong Kong District Court last week, I saw a group of pro-Beijing people waving the Chinese flag. They have a handwritten banner that says: “Injustices waiting to be eliminated.”
In July 2019, more than 100 men wearing white T-shirts armed with metal rods indiscriminately attacked pro-democracy protesters, journalists and commuters at Yuen Long Station. The incident shocked Hong Kong people.
Last week, seven so-called “white shirt” assailants were sentenced to three and a half to seven years in prison for rioting and wounding. Friends and family members of the victims were sitting in the public gallery. Supporters of the men in white also joined them. An old man who walked into the public gallery with a red flag shouted: “This is not fair. We must report this to President Xi Jinping.”
But for many people, the Yuen Long incident was one of the darkest moments in the anti-government protests in Hong Kong in 2019.
I was on the street that day and reported that protesters had defaced Beijing’s main office in the area-this was the first time they had targeted an important sign of the national government. When the police released tear gas to the area, a protester told me to go to Yuen Long. This is the first time I have heard of this.
Despite receiving multiple emergency calls, the police were late and a nearby police station closed its gate. The so-called police inaction on and after that day intensified public distrust in law enforcement.
“Such unscrupulous mass lynching has caused great panic among the citizens, and the court must impose deterrent penalties on the perpetrators,” Judge Eddie said when reading the verdict. Judge Ye added: “The passengers’ defense is only a few umbrellas and some brave young corpses standing in front.”
However, for the victims, the public and even the defendants, severe penalties have not resolved public dissatisfaction, and many questions remain unanswered. For example, although 63 people were arrested in connection with the case, the mastermind behind the attack has not yet been determined, and only 8 white shirts have been brought to court. In contrast, the police arrested thousands of pro-democracy activists, including so-called leaders such as Li Zhiying and Huang Zhifeng.
A victim who tried to protect a journalist and was shot in the mouth in the attack told the Financial Times: “If we can’t find out who directed the matter, who was involved in it and make them public, the court will not Solve this problem, nor [be] Can help solve this problem. “
Deng Weisen’s wife, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for participating in the attack, organized a press conference to oppose the “stern” sentence. “My husband is just an ordinary villager, a small business owner,” she said. He was just there to “protect his home”.
At the press conference, pro-Beijing YouTuber Alex Yeung sat next to Ms. Deng. “The judge is’yellow’,” he said, thumping the table angrily. He was referring to the colors used by democratic groups. “I hope the National Security Law and Anti-Corruption Independent Commission can investigate this judge.”
The victim who was hit in the face was also a witness in the case. He said: “Both sides are demanding the truth: the protesters want to know who commanded this, the villagers [locals in Yuen Long] Or pro-Beijing people are also making what they call “truth” clips.So we need an agency to show the facts and find out all the things behind [it]. “
Efforts to find out the truth are hampered. Bao Choy, a journalist investigating police behavior in the attack, was convicted and fined for making false statements.
The police tried to define the incident as a “mass struggle” and “clashes” between “people of different political beliefs” rather than an attack. Seven other people, including Lin Zhuoting, a former legislator who was injured by the attacker, were charged with participating in the riots. This trial It has been postponed to 2023.
Regarding what happened in Yuen Long, a court may have made a ruling, but many people believe that the truth has not yet been revealed.