Assault on Nathan Law is an attack on us all

Opponents of the lawmaker have every right to criticise the localist but resorting to violence is simply unacceptable

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 January, 2017, 4:20am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 January, 2017, 4:20am

Violence can never be accepted as a way to express opinions. What happened at Hong Kong International Airport on the weekend was as much an assault on our fine tradition of peaceful demonstration and freedom of the press as on lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung and journalists. The police must take action against those responsible.

The localist lawmaker and student activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung are no strangers to controversy. Their stance on “self-determination” for the city is, after all, opposed by Beijing and some local people. That, however, does not mean they should be targets for physical assault.

Nathan Law attacked at Hong Kong International Airport by pro-China protesters

The pair were already showered with verbal abuse by protesters at the airport when they left for Taiwan to meet members of the pro-independent New Power Party last week. When they arrived at the airport in Taipei, they were chased by protesters from pro-Beijing groups, who reportedly said they wanted to “intimidate” the localists for what they saw as advocacy for splitting China.

Protesters are entitled to express their disapproval of what Law and his allies say and do. But it should be done in a peaceful and rational manner. Law and his allies denied they were collaborating with Taiwan forces to promote independence in the city and the island. News footage showed that Law was mobbed by a group of people inside the airport arrival hall upon his return from Taiwan on Sunday evening, leaving him with injuries to his chest and other parts of the body. Separately, three media workers covering the clash were also injured when confronted by two men involved in the alleged assault outside the airport. The incident is a flagrant violation of press freedom.

Pair arrested following airport protest and assault on pro-independence Hong Kong lawmaker Nathan Law

The lawmaker suspected that the people had been paid to attack him, referring to their unusually aggressive behaviour. It is a serious allegation that needs to be backed up by evidence. The police should investigate the case thoroughly and ensure that anyone who broke the law is brought to justice.