On Sunday in Hong Kong, an anti-totalitarianism march, despite a police ban, drew several thousands demonstrators. It also marked the fifth anniversary of the Umbrella Revolution, a pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong that lasted for 79 days in 2014. This weekend’s march ended in street battles, with some protesters destroying public transportation stations and Chinese owned businesses. The police responded with tear gas, beanbag rounds and a water canon to disperse the crowds; then came a wave of violent mass arrests.
On Tuesday, the grandiose National Day celebrations in Beijing marking the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and communist rule were in contrast to city-wide clashes and a “day of national mourning” march in Hong Kong.
Violence escalated, with an 18-year-old protester shot at close range in the chest by police, the first such incident since protests began more than 17 weeks ago. The shooting, one of a reported six live rounds fired on October 1 in Hong Kong, happened when a policeman became isolated in a clash with a group of demonstrators armed with metal poles, bricks and umbrellas.
Police Chief Stephen Lo said in a late night press conference that the use of the live round was “lawful and reasonable.”
“On Tai Ho Road in Tsuen Wan, rioters were attacking police officers, and used a sharp object to attack an officer lying on the ground,” he said. “When other officers tried to save him, protesters threw bricks at them, so when an officer felt that officers’ lives were under serious threat, he fired a live round.”
The wounded protester was taken to the hospital in critical condition where he underwent emergency surgery. More than 60 other demonstrators were injured and hospitalized, of which 2 in critical condition, according to the Hospital Authority.
25 police officers were injured and 180 people were arrested, in what Police Chief Lo characterized as “one of Hong Kong’s most violent and chaotic days.”
Alexandra Radu is a photojournalist based in Kuala Lumpur. Her portfolio is available here.