HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - The leader of a Hong Kong group that has organised record-breaking mass marches over weeks of protests was attacked by two unidentified armed masked men, as the city braces itself for a 13th straight weekend of demonstrations.
Civil Human Rights Front convener Jimmy Sham said the attack took place inside a restaurant in the Jordan area of Kowloon around midday local time on Thursday (Aug 29).
The men were wielding at least one baseball bat and one long knife, according to Mr Sham. He was not hurt, as his friend shielded him from the beatings, he said in a CHRF WhatsApp media group.
Hong Kong police officials confirmed the attack on Mr Sham at an afternoon news briefing. They said officers had arrived on scene shortly after and had tried "in vain" to locate any suspects, and that the case would be followed up by a criminal investigations team.
"This vile attack against Jimmy Sham appears to be a deliberate attempt to target a well-known pro-democracy activist," Amnesty International said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday evening.
"It is vital that the authorities send a clear message that those who target peaceful activists with such violence, irrespective of their political views, will face justice."
Mr Max Chung, the organiser of the Yuen Long march last month, separately said he was attacked by four men near the Tai Po police station on Thursday. They wielded metal rods and umbrellas, he told reporters outside the hospital where he is receiving treatment.
Mr Chung suffered bruises on his arms, lower back and the back of his neck, as he said he was crouching and shielding his head with his arms when one of the men was beating him. Hong Kong police confirmed the receipt of a report matching the incident on Thursday.
The Yuen Long march that Mr Chung organised was in response to attacks on July 21 in which several dozen protesters and passers-by were injured in attacks by white-shirted mobs. There have been sporadic reports of similar attacks on protesters in the weeks since.
The CHRF's latest mass march, planned for Saturday, was banned by the city's police force on Thursday, with the group saying it planned to appeal. The ban could anger protesters ahead of a planned 13th straight week of pro-democracy demonstrations.
Protests that began in early June over a Bill that would allow extraditions to China have since become a wider call for more democracy, including calls for Chief Executive Carrie Lam's resignation.
"How would banning peaceful marches stop clashes? Carrie Lam is pushing Hong Kong to the point of destruction," Mr Sham told reporters before the attack.