A Hong Kong policeman was captured on a Facebook Live video shooting a protester in the stomach from close range as protests in the city spiraled out of control on Monday.
The policeman is seen drawing his service revolver while trying to disperse protesters at an intersection at Sai Wan Ho in the north-east of Hong Kong Island at 7.15 a.m. local time. He grabs hold of one the masked protesters, and when a second masked protester approaches, the officer fires the gun at the man’s torso.
The 21-year-old protester has undergone surgery but remains a critical condition.
Authorities confirmed the officer fired twice more but no other injuries were reported. The government was also forced to deny rumors spreading online that they had ordered frontline officers to fire “recklessly” on protesters.
The protesters became the third person to be shot by the police since protests began five months ago. An 18-year-old activist was shot in the chest on Oct. 1 during China’s 70th-anniversary celebrations and days later, another teenage protester was shot in the leg.
Elsewhere in the city, a pro-Beijing supporter was doused with a flammable liquid and set on fire after arguing with protesters in Ma On Shan, about 12 miles north of the business district.
Video of the incident shared online shows the man telling the protesters “none of you are Chinese.” The protesters respond by telling him to “go back to the Greater Bay Area”, which is a part of the Chinese mainland across the border from Hong Kong.
The violent incidents on Monday inflamed an already tense atmosphere in the city, as demonstrators called for a general strike in response to the death Friday of 22-year-old protester Alex Chow, who fell from a one-storey parking lot during a police operation last week.
Across the city, protesters reacted angrily to the shooting at Sai Wan Ho, disrupting commuters and forcing police to deploy tear gas, even in the central business district, something that very rarely happens there during working hours.
Police also deployed water cannons and fired rubber bullets into crowds of protesters. At the campus of the Chinese University, a video shows a policeman driving a motorbike through a group of demonstrating students in a bid to disperse them.
“Police officers like the one seen shooting an apparently unarmed protester at point-blank range must be suspended immediately,” Man-Kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, told VICE News in an emailed statement.
“Likewise, the police officer on a motorbike was clearly behaving in a reckless, arbitrary way. These behaviors call their training in question and the commands they have been given — officers should be deployed to de-escalate difficult crowd control situations, not make them worse.”
The city has seen increasingly violent protests since June. What began as a protest against a now-withdrawn extradition law has morphed into wider pro-democracy protests, and activists are demanding an independent inquiry into what they see as heavy-handed police action.
But, despite the widespread disruption, Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, was in no mood to give in to protesters’ demands:
“If there is still any wishful thinking that by escalating violence the Hong Kong government will yield to pressure to satisfy the so-called political demands, I make it clear now that that is not going to happen,” Lam told reporters Monday. “Violence is not a solution.”
Cover: A man takes a photo of blood stains at the scene of a police shooting in Hong Kong on Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. A protester was shot by police Monday in a dramatic scene caught on video as demonstrators blocked train lines and roads during the morning commute. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)