- Chow, a 22-year-old computer science student, was pronounced dead on Friday morning.
- The circumstances of Chow's fall were not determined and provoked great controversy.
- Police deny that they hindered the action of emergency services or blocked the passage of the ambulance that took the student to the hospital.
The death of a student in Hong Kong who fell last weekend during clashes with the police provoked new protests from the pro-democracy movement on Friday. Alex Chow’s death could further heighten tension in the former British colony, the scene for five months of intense demonstrations— which often end in violence— to denounce Beijing’s interference and the demand for democratic reforms.
On Friday afternoon, hundreds of protesters blocked some of Hong Kong’s main avenues and highways with bigger demonstrations and further acts of violence expected in the night and at dawn. Chow, a 22-year-old computer science student, was pronounced dead on Friday morning. The student was taken to hospital while in a critical condition on Monday, following violent incidents between police and protesters in Hong Kong’s Tseung Kwan O district.
The young man was found in a pool of blood in a parking lot where a clash had occurred earlier after police used tear gas to contain the protesters who were throwing objects at them. However, the circumstances of the fall of the student, who was participating in the protests, were not determined and provoked great controversy. According to protesters, Chow fell after climbing onto the railing of one of the parking lot floors to escape the tear gas released by the police.
The young man was a student at the University of Science and Technology of Hong Kong, where a graduation ceremony took place that day. University dean Wei Shyy interrupted the event to announce the young man’s death and called for a minute of silence. Hours later, several Internet forums that coordinate the protest movement, with no designated leaders, mobilized the population to participate in demonstrations.
Police commanders admitted to using tear gas near the parking lot where the young man died but said that when Chow was found, there was little tear gas in the area. They also deny that they hindered the action of emergency services or blocked the passage of the ambulance that took the student to the hospital.
Last Saturday, police and protesters staged a pitched battle for several hours after an unauthorized protest. A day later, a violent confrontation left five injured, including a pro-democracy activist who had a part of one of his ears cut off. On Wednesday, a pro-Beijing politician suffered a a knife attack.
Hong Kong is an autonomous southern China territory that was returned to Beijing by the British in 1997 and is run by the “one country, two systems” principle. The pro-democracy movement accuses Beijing of not keeping it’s promises and of increasing its political influence in Hong Kong, particularly since President Xi Jinping came to power. Protesters call, among other things, for genuine universal suffrage and an investigation into the police action.