On 8 January 2017, Legislative Councillor Nathan Law Kwun Chung was physically attacked at the Hong Kong International Airport by members of a group of approximately 50 individuals acting in concert. He was beaten repeatedly, had his clothing torn apart, had unidentified liquid poured over him and had a water bottle thrown at him causing him to fall down a flight of stairs. He has suffered multiple bruises, abrasions and other injuries as a result. Further, at least 2 members of the press reporting on site were also assaulted (to the extent of injury).
Throughout the attack, the assailants were shouting, or holding placards with, terms such as traitor (漢奸), lackey (走狗), sinner (千古罪人) and scourge of Hong Kong (禍害香港). Mr. Law was returning from a trip to Taiwan where he was invited as a newly elected Legislative Councillor by members of civil society to share his views on serving in this new role and on democratic development in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The Progressive Lawyers Group condemns this violence in the strongest terms. Serious criminal offences have clearly been committed. Further, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to stand for election are enshrined by the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance. Such rights are inevitably and fundamentally undermined when citizens are viciously attacked when exercising such rights. Further still, insofar as such attack is connected to Mr. Law’s position as an elected political figure and his views on matters of public interest, the attack constitutes a brazen affront to the rule of law. It is trite that any threat on a popularly elected figure is a threat to democracy itself (however limited it may be). In sum, insofar as the individuals who have perpetrated this attack have patently no respect for the core values of Hong Kong, we do not regard them as members of our community. We regard them with contempt.
The Progressive Lawyers Group regrets that the Government has not to date issued any statement on this incident. This is regrettable. It is particularly regrettable that the Secretary for Justice and the Secretary for Security, with constitutional responsibilities to defend the rule of law, human rights and the due administration of justice and to maintain law and order respectively, have remained silent. The Progressive Lawyers Group recalls that the Government has in the past immediately denounced attempted acts of violence against public officials.
The Progressive Lawyers Group therefore demands as follows.
1. That the law enforcement agencies bring those who were involved in the attack swiftly to justice. It is to be noted that videos of the attack show far more than 2 individuals involved in its execution, let alone those who orchestrated this reception for Mr. Law.
2. That the law enforcement agencies set up an independent panel to investigate this attack, including why more police officers were not deployed to protect Mr. Law (particularly given that Mr. Law was subject to heated protests upon his departure) and what measures can be taken to prevent them in similar situations. Such investigation is critical given the increase in recent times of threats and violence against legislators, particularly those not in line with the Government. The Progressive Lawyers Group has not forgotten the egregious threats against Mr. Eddie Chu Hoi Dick late last year.
3. That the Government issue a full and immediate statement condemning this attack and pledging to resolve it fully as promptly as possible.
The Progressive Lawyers Group will continue monitoring this matter with acute interest and calls on all members of the community who cherish the core values of Hong Kong to do so too.
Progressive Lawyers Group
11 January 2017