HONG KONG: A student of a Hong Kong university who fell during protests at the weekend died early on Friday morning (Nov 8), marking the first student death during the anti-government demonstrations that have roiled the city and setting the stage for fresh unrest.
Alex Chow Tsz-lok, 22, a computer science undergraduate of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, was certified dead at 8.09am on Friday, Queen Elizabeth Hospital confirmed.
The college was holding its graduation ceremony Friday morning, and university head Wei Shyy paused the proceedings to announce Chow’s death and observe a moment of silence.
Chow was taken to hospital in an unconscious state in the early hours of Monday morning following late-night clashes between police and protesters in Tseung Kwan O district. Sources told AFP doctors had performed two surgeries in a bid to reduce swelling in his brain.
He was found lying unconscious in a pool of blood inside a car park that police had fired tear gas into after protesters hurled objects from the building.
The exact circumstances of how Chow received his injuries were unclear but police said he was believed to have fallen from one floor to another in the multistorey car park.
Students and young people have been at the forefront of the hundreds of thousands who have taken to the streets since June to press for greater democracy, among other demands, and rally against perceived Chinese meddling in the Asian financial hub.
Many demonstrators had thronged the hospital over this week to pray for Chow and also staged rallies at universities across the former British colony.
Chow’s death is expected to spark fresh protests and fuel anger and resentment against the police, who are already under immense pressure amid accusations of excessive force as the city grapples with its worst political crisis in decades.
Demonstrators had thronged the hospital over this week to pray for Chow, leaving flowers and hundreds of get well messages on walls and notice boards inside the building. Students also staged rallies at universities across the former British colony.
“Wake up soon. Remember we need to meet under the LegCo,” said one message, referring to the territory’s Legislative Council, one of the targets of the protest rallies. “There are still lots of things for you to experience in your life.”
Another read: “Please add oil and stay well,” a slogan meaning “keep your strength up” that has become a rallying cry of the protest movement.
Notices circulated on social media said students planned a march on Friday at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Others called for people to rally at 1200 GMT at the site where Chow fell.
Schools also plan a rally in the eastern district of Kwun Tong, protesters said in advertisements.
The demonstrations in Hong Kong began over a since-scrapped extradition Bill and escalated in mid-June.
Protesters have kept up their calls for universal suffrage and an independent inquiry into police behaviour, among other demands.
The number of people who take part in the mostly weekend rallies has dwindled from the millions who participated in June, but the violence and vandalism have escalated.
There have been many injuries in the protests. Last weekend anti-government protesters crowded a shopping mall in running clashes with police that saw a man slash people with a knife and bite off part of the ear of a local politician.
On Friday evening, schools plan to hold a rally in the eastern working-class district of Kwun Tong, protesters said in advertisements.
Protests scheduled over the weekend include “Shopping Sunday” centred on prominent shopping malls, some of which have previously descended into chaos as riot police stormed areas crowded with families and children.
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