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Hong Kong authorities still searching for answers over woman’s brutal eye injury

HONG KONG — Hong Kong police on Monday (Aug 19) said they were still investigating an eye injury suffered by a young woman at an anti-government protest outside Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station on Aug 11.

Hong Kong authorities still searching for answers over woman’s brutal eye injury

An injured woman receives medical assistance after being hit in her right eye during a demonstration in Tsim Sha Tsui neighbourhood in Hong Kong, China, Aug 11, 2019.

HONG KONG — Hong Kong police on Monday (Aug 19) said they were still investigating an eye injury suffered by a young woman at an anti-government protest outside Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station on Aug 11.

The force urged anyone with information about the injury to come forward.

Although the woman appeared to be out of hospital, her exact condition was unknown on Monday.

The woman was sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei for treatment on the night of the injury. A spokesman from the Hospital Authority would not comment on the case, but told the South China Morning Post on Monday that all the patients who arrived at the hospital after the protest violence on August 11 had been discharged.

At 7.24pm on August 11, the young woman was seen lying on the ground on Nathan Road with blood around her right eye. Police had already fired tear gas and beanbag rounds in the area to disperse protesters who had attacked the police station with bricks and petrol bombs.

Protesters accused officers of causing the woman’s eye injury after photos and videos circulated online of what was reported to be her protective goggles, damaged by a beanbag round.

Protesters hold signs and hand out leaflets during a rally at Hong Kong International Airport on Aug 13, 2019. Photo: The New York Times

However, another video purportedly recorded that night has emerged that appears to show a protester launching a projectile with a catapult-like device in the same area at around the same time. Pro-government supporters have questioned whether the brutal eye injury really was caused by the police.

At a police briefing on Monday, Senior Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah of the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau said police still did not know how the woman was injured. He urged witnesses to contact the force to help clarify what happened.

“In some media, some people said what they have seen. I hope they contact the police and tell us what they saw because it seems different from the statements we have recorded so far,” Li said.

He said the collected statements were from officers and independent witnesses, but refused to explain the differences in the statements or provide details on the case.

“If we talk about the details now, it would not be fair for people who record statements with us later,” Mr Li said. “It’s OK not to be the same; we just want to know the truth.”

Police said more than eight beanbag rounds were fired between 6.30pm and 9.30pm.

“The police used beanbag rounds to fight off the protesters,” Mr Li said. “There were warnings before the shooting and there are detailed records.”

A police source said beanbag rounds were fired from Tsim Sha Tsui Police Station before the woman was injured.

The Post has learned that two police officers worked together to fire beanbag rounds from the main entrance of the police station — with one responsible for finding targets and the other for firing. The Post was told the officers targeted protesters who had attacked the police station.

The source said anti-riot police, who also fired beanbag rounds in the area, arrived on the scene after 7.30pm to disperse the crowd.

The woman’s injury deepened the protesters’ anger towards police and escalated the intensity of subsequent demonstrations, notably at Hong Kong International Airport on August 12, when many chanted “an eye for an eye”.

Protesters rally at Hong Kong International Airport on Aug 12, 2019. Photo: The New York Times

In an August 17 post on LIHKG, a website popular with protesters, a user who claimed to be the younger sister of the injured woman said the victim’s condition was stable and the family was still considering whether to take legal action.

The post read: “My elder sister told me to tell everyone this: ‘Thank you, Hongkongers. I will try to eat more and sleep more’.”

The same user posted the day after the injury that the woman’s right eye was swollen “as big as an egg”.

“There was a long cut from the inner corner of the right eye to just under eye. Stitches were done late at night,” the post read. “The doctor said the injury was serious and bones near the area that was hit were all fractured.”

The online post quoted the injured woman as saying she was standing at a bus stop watching police, and not acting aggressively. She said she was shot after she poked her head out between advertising panels.

On August 15, meanwhile, a 58-year-old was arrested in relation to an attack on protesters and passengers at Yuen Long MTR station on July 21, bringing the number of people arrested over the assault to 28.

The man, who like the others was arrested for illegal assembly, was released on bail. No one has yet been charged over the attack, which left 45 people injured.

Mr Li said police and the Department of Justice were examining whether there was enough evidence to prosecute those involved.

“We hope to make sure prosecutions will be successful in future, so some work is needed,” Li said.

Some of the arrested men included suspected members of the 14K and Wo Shing Wo triad gangs and a Yuen Long village leader.

Separately, police made another arrest over a protest at the airport on August 13. On Tuesday, a 23-year-old woman was arrested for unlawful detention and wounding, bringing the number of arrests to seven. SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

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