Hong Kong’s parliament descended into chaos on Thursday as security guards dragged out lawmakers for heckling leader Carrie Lam.
Lawmakers demanded an inquiry into a brutal attack on a prominent human rights activist ahead of a major rally.
Human rights activist Jimmy Sham was attacked with a knife and hammer on Wednesday night by about five hammer-wielding men in the Mong Kok district of the Kowloon peninsula and left with head injuries.
His attack was designed to intimidate protesters and incite violence ahead of Sunday’s march, pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo told newsmen.
“This very vicious attack took place practically on the eve of the call for yet another massive protest in Hong Kong on Sunday. We can’t help feeling that this entire thing is part of a plan to shed blood on Hong Kong’s peaceful protests,” Claudia Mo said.
The second day of turmoil in the Legislative Council, after Lam was forced to cut short her annual policy speech on Wednesday due to heckling, and broadcast it via video instead, underscores the political rift in the city, with no end in sight to more than four months of anti-government protests.
“Regarding the current situation we are facing, we need to be united against violence, say no to violence,” Lam said in the chamber and again defended her efforts to end the crisis.
“I have mentioned that we will be humble, listen to different voices and set up an expert commission to find a way out of the current situation we are facing,” she added.
For four months, Hong Kong has been wrecked with pro-democracy protests over concerns that Beijing is undermining freedoms granted when Britain handed the city back to China in 1997.
The crisis in the city is one that has hit rock bottom and poses as the biggest threat to China’s President Xi Jinping since he took office.
Lam offered no olive branch to protesters in her policy speech on Wednesday but sought to ease resentment by announcing measures to ease Hong Kong’s chronic housing shortage which has partly fueled protests – a move widely rejected by pro-democracy leaders.