|Schoolmates of a student protester who was shot by a policeman on Tuesday react while participating in a student gathering at Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College in solidarity with the student in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, China, October 2, 2019. Reuters-Yonhap|
By Kimmy Chung
Tsang Chi-kin, a Form Five pupil at Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College, is in a stable condition after an operation on Tuesday night. He was the first protester to be shot with a live round by police over the nearly four months of anti-government protests.
That came as about 50 students boycotted classes and joined a peaceful sit-in at a car park outside the school. Joined by pupils from other schools, they chanted "Tsang Chi-kin, add oil", and "Ho Chuen Yiu, add oil", and folded origami cranes sending the teen blessings.
Video footage posted online showed a group of protesters chasing a police officer with a long shield into an alleyway, pinning him to the ground and beating him.
Another officer in a gas mask then rushes forward with his service revolver pointed at protesters. As they clashed, the officer with his gun drawn was seen kicking Tsang, who swung his metal rod at the officer. At this point the officer pointed his gun and opened fire.
Chan, 16, a Form Five student who declined to give his full name, said Tsang had a "high political awareness" as was "active" in voicing his views about political events.
"He's very passionate and always participates actively," Chan said, adding the school did not offer enough support for students with emotional needs.
|Schoolmates of a student protester who was shot by a policeman on Tuesday react while participating in a student gathering at Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College in solidarity with the student in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, China, October 2, 2019. Re|
The school's principal, Tse Yun-ming, expressed sympathy towards Tsang's family, and said the school has been providing support to them.
Tse said he was saddened by the news of the shooting, and the school had activated its crisis management team, which includes providing emotional support for students.
"It would be good if everyone could give the school some space," he said, but declined to comment on whether the school would condemn police.
Tse later had an hour-long meeting with school alumni, which ended in acrimony after Tse and two vice-principals refused to condemn the officer's use of force.
A 35-year-old alumnus, surnamed Yeung, said Tse only said he would consider it.
She also said vice-principal Ho wai-Hung had told them, "violence could not solve any problems", and compared the relationship between Beijing and Hong Kong to that of parents and children, urging "children should not smash up things at home even they are discontented", Ho reportedly said.
"We are disappointed," Yeung said. "That's trash talk. I understand the stance of the school and never expect the school to say anything anti-Beijing.
"But if the school fails to stand up against violence, the police could escalate force in the future."
|Principal Tse Yun-ming discusses the incident with the press. Photo from South China Morning Post|
Yeung said she had watched the footage many times and believed the shooting was more than an act of defence.
"He held the gun for too long. It is more like a lethal attack. The student was just lucky to survive," Yeung said. "For me, a condemnation of force is far from enough. The officer should be accountable through legal means."
Another alumni, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, said two other former pupils who were with Tsang on Tuesday felt guilty for failing to protect him.
"If there were enough comrades on the front line, they believed there was a chance to save Tsang," the alumni said.
"War has started," he said, adding those who had stayed at home should take to the streets and those peaceful protesters should consider helping out on the front line.
Kwan Long-ching, 17, a Form Six student from nearby Liu Po Shan Memorial College in Tsuen Wan, said he believed the shooting was unreasonable, although he did not completely agree with protesters attacking police.
Kwan said he was terrified by Tuesday's incident.
"The next person who may get shot could be me or any of my friends," he said.