A student from Hong Kong who was confirmed dead after sustaining head injuries when he fell during clashes with police died on Friday, the death has triggered a fresh wave of outrage from the pro-democracy movement and fears of more violent unrest.
Although the precise chain of events leading to 22-year-old Alex Chow’s fall are unclear and disputed, his death is the first student fatality during five months of demonstrations.
Protesters, who allege police tactics contributed to Chow dying, responded to his death with calls for Friday night vigils across the city as well as further rallies over the weekend.
“Today we mourn the loss of a freedom fighter in Hong Kong,” Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy campaigner, said on Twitter.
“We will not leave anyone behind – what we start together, we finish together. Given the losses suffered by Hong Kong society in the past month, the government must pay the price.”
Online forums used by the largely anonymous and leaderless protest movement also quickly filled up with the calls for vigils to mourn Chow’s death.
Chow was taken to hospital early on Monday morning following clashes between police and protesters in the middle-class district of Tseung Kwan O.
He was certified dead by the hospital on Friday morning after failing to emerge from a coma.
He had been found lying unconscious in a pool of blood inside a multi-storey car park that police had fired tear gas towards.
Protesters had been hurling objects from the building, in the type of confrontation that has become routine in late-night rallies over recent months.
Police acknowledged that tear gas had been used to disperse protesters near the car park where Chow fell on Sunday night.
But they denied any wrongdoing, saying their use of tear gas was justified and rejecting other allegations of hindering Chow’s rescue.
“The police did not hinder any fire services officers, ambulance responders or ambulance at all from taking the injured to leave the scene,” a police spokeswoman said this week.