TENSIONS IN HK OVER STUDENT’S DEATH
Angry dissidents hit the streets as Chow Tsz Lok succumbs to injuries
HONG KONG: Protesters hit the streets of Hong Kong on Friday after a student who fell in a parking garage near a protest earlier this week died, a development that threatened to inflame more demonstrations planned for the weekend.
Chow Tsz Lok suffered a brain injury after falling early on Monday as police carried out a dispersal operation nearby using tear gas. A spokesman for the Hospital Authority confirmed on Friday that he was certified dead at 8.09am.
While some demonstrators have committed suicide during the prolonged period of protests, nobody has been confirmed dead as a direct result of a clash between police and demonstrators. Anger over police tactics and injured protesters - has been a major focus of recent rallies.
“Considering it’s the first death that’s happened at a policepeople confrontation scene, it will certainly add fuel to the already strong fire of anger - particularly when people generally have absolutely no trust in the system, and the police,” said Alvin Yeung, a pro-democracy lawmaker.
Hong Kong police officials again denied their officers had chased and pushed Chow, emphasising during a Friday afternoon press conference that he had been seen walking around the car park alone in CCTV footage. Police officers entered the car park twice that night, once during a patrol before Chow entered, and the second time after firemen were already attending to him, said Suzette Foo, the force’s Senior Superintendent of the Kowloon East region.
She called for a coroner’s inquiry into his death.
Protesters held a memorial for Chow before a lunchtime rally in the city centre on Friday, and calls for “flash mob”-style demonstrations marking his death were trending on online protester forums.
“We are very sad about the incident, we do not know what’s the next step,” said a 31-year-old bank employee who asked to be identified by the surname Tam as she protested in centrally located Chater Garden. She said the midday rally was about showing that Hong Kong people “have not let go” of grievances that have fueled months of protest.
Chow, 22, was a second year computer science undergraduate at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, according to the South China Morning Post newspaper, which reported the death on Friday. University President Wei Shyy briefly paused the school’s graduation ceremony to announce Chow’s death and observe a moment of silence.
The death comes after five months of unrest in the region’s main financial hub.
■ A protester holds up a banner during a rally to remember Chow Tsz Lok in Hong Kong on Friday.