Hammer-Wielding Thugs Beat Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Activist

Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) member Jimmy Sham (C) speaks during a press conference in Hong Kong on June 15, 2019 after Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended a hugely divisive bill that would allow extraditions to China in a major climbdown after a week of unprecedented protests and …
HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Jimmy Sham is in the hospital late Wednesday after an unknown group of masked thugs bludgeoned him with hammers while out in public.

Sham, speaking through friends using his Facebook account, said that he has received stitches for significant injuries but did not sustain damage to his brain or vital organs.

This is the second such street attack Sham has suffered. The first, in August, occurred when a pro-communist fanatic attempted to beat him in broad daylight with a baseball bat.

Sham is the convener of the Hong Kong Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), a pro-democracy organization that has taken a leading role in ensuring the legality of the ongoing protests in the city. CHRF members regularly file the legal paperwork to receive a letter of no objection, or a permit, for peaceful protests. Without the letter of no objection, Hong Kong residents do not have the right to freely assemble.

The CHRF has also been at the forefront of advocating for the rights of protesters who have been beaten, imprisoned, and allegedly abused by Hong Kong police officers.

In addition to his work with the CHRF, Sham is running for a representative spot on the Sha Tin District Council in upcoming elections.

“The Civil Human Rights Front strongly condemns the acts of the perpetrators,” the group said in response to the attack on Sham on Wednesday. “It is not hard to link this incident to a spreading political terror in order to threaten and inhibit the legitimate exercise of natural and legal rights.”

Gruesome photos began to surface on social media Wednesday of Sham lying in a pool of his own blood in front of a car in the Tai Kok Tsui neighborhood, where he was on the way to a CHRF meeting about a protest organized for this weekend.

Apple Daily, an anti-communist newspaper, published a photo of Sham lying bloodied on the ground, confirming its authenticity.

The attack occurred reportedly in front of bystanders who attempted to intervene, but failed to stop the assailants, who were armed and brandished knives at the bystanders. The Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) said that the thugs number at about four to five people and attacked Sham with hammers. Quoting another CHRF member, Figo Chan, the outlet noted that Sham never lost consciousness.

Chan told reporters that Sham repeatedly the protest slogan “five demands, not one less” while being placed in an ambulance. The protesters have made five demands of their government: the withdrawal of a bill granting China full extradition power, freedom for political prisoners, direct election of lawmakers, an independent investigation into police brutality, and an end to calling peaceful protests “riots.” The slogan refers to the fact that Chief Executive Carrie Lam promised Hong Kong that the Legislative Council would withdraw the extradition bill, then demanded the protesters cease their activities.

The South China Morning Post alleged that the unidentified assailants, who are still at large, were “non-ethnic Chinese,” despite the fact that they were reportedly covering their faces.

Police officials claimed that they did not have any leads on the identity of the assailants, who were reportedly wearing black, the preferred color of the Hong Kong protest movement. Protesters online have begun to circulate videos showing police treating the crime scene carelessly, highlighting the fact that one officer appears to step into a puddle of Sham’s blood.

“Hong Kong police stepping on bloodstains at the scene of an attack against democrats,” Agnes Chow, an activist with the pro-freedom group Demosisto, wrote in Japanese online. “The criminals will probably not be caught again, or only a couple of people will be arrested instead of everyone. It is always like this.”

“Pro-democracy people and demonstrators are immediately arrested, and those who attack [them] are not caught and have no legal responsibility. Is Hong Kong a society of law?” she asked. “Don’t make me laugh.”

Sham dictated a message written on his Facebook page to supporters confirming that he was in stable condition and would continue to fight against pro-China forces.

“I have stitches and my wounds are taken care of!” he said, adding that many protesters “have suffered more than me” in advocating for liberty from the repressive Chinese Communist Party. “I am sorry to make everyone worry. I will recover as soon as possible, then continue to stick to the goals of the five demands.”

He thanked the police for arriving quickly and urged “calm” in the face of the attack.

The Chinese Communist Party in Beijing has not openly deployed officers to oppress the democracy movement, but mobs of armed thugs have appeared at the sites of protests on multiple occasions to physically attack protesters. In one particularly violent instance, a pro-China mob armed with metal sticks cornered peaceful protesters in an underground metro station in July, beating them severely as many were trapped on trains. Police arrested a small number of the estimated 100 men that showed up to attack the protesters – who, at the time, were on their way home and had concluded their assembly – and confirmed that they had ties to the organized crime groups known as triads.”

Sham escaped harm in a similar street attack in July, in which unidentified individuals attempted to beat him with a baseball bat. At the time, he was with a friend who endured the worst of the attack and was hospitalized for bruising.

“This vile attack against Jimmy Sham appears to be a deliberate attempt to target a well-known pro-democracy activist. On top of terrifying physical threats Jimmy Sham also faced homophobic abuse,” Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said shortly after the baseball bat attack.

 

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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