Pro-democracy politicians in Hong Kong were dragged out of parliament for heckling leader Carrie Lam as they demanded an inquiry into a vicious attack on a prominent human rights activist.
Jimmy Sham, of Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), was badly injured on Wednesday night when five men attacked him with knives and hammers as he walked to a meeting in Mong Kok in Kowloon.
A CHRF spokesman said Mr Sham, one of Hong Kong’s protest leaders, remains in hospital with severe cuts to his head and badly bruised knees and elbows but is now awake and stable.
They said staff from a nearby garage who tried to intervene were threatened at knifepoint before the attackers fled in a car.
As pro-democracy politicians on Thursday demanded an inquiry into the attack, they were dragged out of the Legislative Council chamber by security guards, ending chief executive Ms Lam’s question and answer session early.
They accused the security guards of excessive force, questioning why five guards needed to detain one woman waving a placard.
The group of 12 had been chanting slogans such as “five demands, not one less” in reference to the protesters’ demands.
They are: withdrawal of the extradition bill (achieved in September), inquiry into alleged police brutality, retracting classification of protesters as “rioters”, amnesty for arrested protesters and universal suffrage.
It was the second day in a row the parliamentary chamber was disrupted, after Ms Lam tried to give her Policy Address – a formal outline of her government’s agenda – on Wednesday, but gave up due to heckling and delivered the address via video link instead.
The turmoil underscores the political rift in the former colony, as more than four months of anti-government protests appear to have no end.
Pro-democracy politician Claudia Mo said the attack on Mr Sham was designed to intimidate protesters and incite violence ahead of a planned march on Sunday.
“We can’t help feeling that this entire thing is part of a plan to shed blood on Hong Kong’s peaceful protests,” she said.
Human rights group Amnesty International said the “horrifying attack” on Mr Sham would send a chilling signal and urged authorities to investigate
Police said they are investigating and believe the attackers are not Chinese, but did not elaborate.
From hospital, Mr Sham urged people not to seek revenge.
In a statement, he said: “Regardless of the identity, ethnicity, skin colour of the perpetrators, the root of the problem is the violence of the regime and the political system.
“No matter how difficult the situation on Sunday might be, everyone please take care and be safe.”
Ms Lam defended her efforts to end the crisis, saying: “We need to be united against violence, say no to violence.”
She said the government will set up an expert commission “to find a way out of the current situation”.
The protests – now in their fifth month – have become more violent as campaigners and police clash with one another.
Two people have been shot and wounded by police, thousands have been injured and more than 2,300 people arrested since June.
A group of hardcore protesters have torched the city’s underground system, Chinese banks and shops which they believe are linked to mainland China.
The Asian financial hub is facing its first recession in a decade due to the unrest.