Humans of Hong Kong

Humans of Hong Kong

Translated version of feature stories and interviews by Stand News. 立場新聞專題、人訪的英文版本。

2020/1/9 - 18:35

Student shot by police: Bullets can kill, but ideas are bulletproof

Humans of Hong Kong 刊出《立場新聞》專題、人物專訪的英文版本,由特約作者翻譯,方便國際讀者閱讀。

"Humans of Hong Kong" is a column highlighting the English version of feature stories and interviews by Stand News.

In the morning of 11 November 2019, traffic police officer Kwan Ka Wing fired three live rounds in Sai Wan Ho, between Tai On Street and Shau Kee Wan Road. One of those bullets punctured Chow Pak-kwan, a 21 year old student of Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education, in the abdomen. Pak-kwan fell to the ground and was sent to the hospital for an emergency operation. After four hours of surgery, Pak-kwan survived — at the cost of having his right kidney and part of his liver removed.

Pak-kwan was discharged from the hospital after 9 days and met the press on 23 November, in the company of his lawyer and LegCo Member Chan Chi-chuen. His lawyer reminded journalists not to ask too much about his case, as he had been arrested and charged with participating in an unlawful assembly.

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Holding onto a crutch, Pak-kwan limped his way into the conference room, his right hand covering the wound on his abdomen. His voice was weak because of intubation.

Pak-kwan started by thanking Hongkongers for expressing care about his situation. With a smile on his face, he told reporters that he now had a massive stock of Koala’s March cookies given by well-wishers, after he randomly mentioned his longing for the snack after the operation. The cookie boxes now piled as high as a standing man.

Chow Pak-kwan in press conference

Chow Pak-kwan in press conference

The will to live on

Pak-kwan said that his doctor had been surprised by his speedy recovery. Now he can walk for a short distance with the aid of a crutch. Although Pak-kwan does not eat as much as he did before he was shot, he can have a normal diet. The doctor told him that with the removal of his right kidney and parts of his liver, it is more likely for him to suffer from kidney diseases and diabetes. But he said that he was happy that he was not paralysed by the bullet, or his dream to be a makeup artist would only be a dream. 

Pak-kwan did not sleep well in his first five nights in hospital. Apart from the severe pain of the wound, the scene of being shot at always came back to haunt him in his dreams — the police officer pointing the pistol, pulling the trigger... “When he pulled the trigger... I was really scared.”

Pak-kwan recalled that after he was shot, while lying on the ground, his first thoughts were about his family and friends. He thought about how worried they would be. Then, he started thinking: Am I going to die?

“But I knew that if I kept thinking like that [about whether I was going to die], that would have weakened my will to survive. I must persist, so that I can live to see the day when Hong Kong has democracy.”

He has been in a coma for a few days after the operation. The first thing he did as he woke up, was to catch himself up on the latest developments of the protest movement. All he saw was more and more protesters getting injured as a result of police brutality. That worried him greatly.

“I hope the police will stop abusing their power in order to crackdown on citizens who pursue democracy.”

Chow Pak-kwan walking with his crutch

Chow Pak-kwan walking with his crutch

Belief in a democratic and free Hong Kong is bulletproof

Pak-kwan’s interest in politics began in 2014, during the Umbrella Movement. In 2016, he began to engage with localist ideas. Soon after, the government started barring people from running for public office because of their political views; it disqualified democratically elected lawmakers on the basis of their ‘invalid’ oaths.

Although Pak-kwan’s injuries prevent him from going to rallies and marches — even the peaceful ones — his faith in the vision of the movement has not wavered. He said that he would continue to walk along with his fellow protesters by contributing from a different position, for example through making promotional materials, to spread the word around the world.

“Bullets can kill, but ideas are bulletproof. Ideas spread from person to person — from one person to ten people, from ten to a hundred.”

The week after Pak-kwan was shot in his abdomen, Hong Kong became roiled with conflict. Clashes between police and protesters spread from urban areas to the universities, both police and protesters became more violent. Police were no longer shied away from using live rounds to crack down on protesters. For Pak-kwan, the responsibility for the increasingly violent clashes lies squarely with the Hong Kong government.

“On 9 June, one million people flooded the streets; and yet, Carrie Lam refused to withdraw the extradition bill. Even when people started to lose their lives, including Leung Ling-kit and Alex Chow Tsz-lok, the government did not give us a proper response.”

“We were not the cause for the protests became more violent. The government has continually failed to respond to our demands. Hongkongers have become angrier and angrier. They are fighting for justice and other things that their fellow Hongkongers should have had.”

Chow Pak-Kwan

Chow Pak-Kwan

Pak-kwan’s father: Nobody wants their child to get hurt; but I will not stop him from fighting

Pak-kwan’s father also attended the press conference. Although Pak-kwan said that his family was very supportive and “stood side by side with him,” Mr Chow said he had been very worried about Pak-kwan’s safety since the beginning of the movement, which led to occasional rows. “After all, he is risking his life. All I can do is remind him to remain alert and take care.”

Mr Chow learned about the shooting from his son’s friends. He couldn’t believe that the victim was his son, even while on the way to the emergency room. On the taxi, the news of a youngster getting shot in Sai Wan Ho blared from the radio. When he arrived at the hospital and saw his son’s name on the roll, he realized that the most absurd and bewildering thing, had really happened.

Mr Chow said that, as a parent, he is anxious about his son’s safety; but he would not stop his son from standing up against the government. “...If no one stands up for Hong Kong and everyone stays at home, Hong Kong will be doomed!”

“I cannot see other kids being beaten by the police for the sake of the future of Hong Kong, and tell my son not to stand up. Of course, nobody wants to see their children get hurt; but all I can do is to tell him to be careful.”

Mr Chow recalled when his son woke up in the hospital, “The first thing he said was, are you going to tell me off? I said to him: ‘No, at least not now!’”

Relieved smiles broke out on the father’s and son’s faces — the storm had passed.

Mr Chow, Pak-Kwan’s father

Mr Chow, Pak-Kwan’s father

We are the chosen generation

Having nearly lost his life, Pak-kwan said that it is not worth it for protesters to trade their lives in exchange for a response from the government.

“Democracy and freedom are rights by birth. But the Hong Kong Government has taken these rights away from us. Universal suffrage is enshrined in the Basic Law. These guaranteed rights ought not to be given to us at the cost of human lives.”

He implored Hongkongers to cherish their vote, urging them to make their voices heard during the District Council Elections on 24 November. “Your vote matters — just one vote may tip the balance.”

From the 2014 Umbrella Movement, to the 2016 Mong Kok Unrest, up to the 2019 Anti-Extradition Movement, it is clear that people are paying a higher and higher price for resistance. But Pak-kwan firmly believes that he and his contemporaries are the “chosen generation”.

“Our generation has put our personal futures — perhaps even our lives — on the line, to fight for the future of Hong Kong and to defend our civil rights, democracy, and freedom.”

“If young people do not stand up against the government, the repression will only become more and more severe. If we do not make our voices heard today, we may no longer be able to speak out tomorrow.”

“Every person can hold fast to and defend their beliefs. Because I am wounded, I cannot even participate in peaceful rallies organised by the Civil Human Rights Front. All I can do is stay at home and promote the cause, to make more people understand the purpose of the movement and the Five Demands.”

 

(Original Chinese version:〈西灣河中槍青年:信念唔會俾子彈打死 父擔心仍支持:你唔去我又唔去,香港無㗎啦!〉