Over 100 people were injured and police arrested nearly 200 during demonstrations in Hong Kong on Tuesday against China’s celebration of its 70th anniversary as a communist state.
A Hong Kong Hospital Authority spokesperson confirmed to local public broadcaster RTHK that, as of Wednesday morning, 104 people had been hospitalized for injuries sustained during yesterday’s protests.
Those wounded included 81 men and 23 women, 29 of whom are now in stable condition. Two men remain in a critical condition and are receiving treatment at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital and Ruttonjee Hospital. Another 71 people have already been discharged.
"This is not a protest anymore. This is turning into urban warfare."
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) October 1, 2019
The shocking number of injuries came as police announced that 269 people were arrested during the demonstration. Deputy Police Commissioner Tang Ping-Keung confirmed at a press briefing on Wednesday that 30 police officers were among the injured, blaming protesters for allegedly attacking them.
In a separate press briefing, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo said that the suspects were arrested on charges including rioting, unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons, and assaulting police officers. He added that it was “one of the most violent, chaotic days in the history of Hong Kong.”
Lo also confirmed that police shot six live rounds of ammunition on Tuesday, with one high school student being shot in the chest from close range, an action he described as “reasonable and legal,” as the officer responsible had legitimately feared for his life.
Video shows a protester in Hong Kong being shot at close range. The protester was shot by an officer who opened fire with his revolver, a police official was quoted as saying. pic.twitter.com/e9Oo3arH1G
— NBC News World (@NBCNewsWorld) October 1, 2019
The victim arrived in the hospital in critical condition requiring emergency surgery to remove the bullet, which was located three centimeters from his heart.
Tuesday’s mass demonstrations took place despite authorities warning they were illegal. Many on the streets shouted slogans such as, “There is no National Day celebration, only a national tragedy.”
One of the protester’s principal aims was the disruption of the 70th anniversary of the founding of communist China, a period during which tens of millions have been killed, imprisoned, persecuted, and denied fundamental human rights.
Hong Kong has been subject to widespread political and civil unrest since early June, when pro-democracy demonstrators took to the streets in opposition to an extradition bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to China for trial.
The bill has since been shelved by Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam, although the demonstrations have since evolved into a campaign against police brutality, with participants demanding the release of over 1,000 detainees.
The demonstrations also form part of a wider pushback against Beijing’s increasing interference in the city’s internal affairs, undermining the principle of “one country, two systems” that was agreed on after the handover from the British Empire in 1997.