8964(alias) 18 years old student
On the night of November 18th, 2019, more than 1,000 protesters had been besieged by the police for more than 36 hours at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). They tried to escape in various ways. Some protesters sneaked into manholes. Some rappelled off a footbridge to the highway below. They would rather risk their lives than getting arrested. 「8964」chose to escape through a bridge using a rope. He broke his right leg when he landed and was hospitalized for a month.
In November 2019, the two successive siege battles in the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) campuses were the culmination of police violence since the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement. On the 12th, police fired thousands of tear gas bombs at the CUHK. The battlefield, No.2 Bridge, was covered with bullet marks and smoke. Starting on the 13th, other protesters began to gather at PolyU to support those at CUHK. They set up barricades to disrupt traffic going into the Cross-Harbour Tunnel in Hung Hom.
On the morning of November 17th, PolyU was completely surrounded by the police.「8964」had been staying behind at CUHK. He left for PolyU after he saw a message on the Telegram group indicating that more help was needed at PolyU. Protesters thought that the more people they could gather, the better chance they had to break the police blockade. However, the police were heavily armed and threatened to use live ammunition if protesters didn’t stop throwing petrol bombs. Protesters had no choice but to retreat into campus.
At night on November 18th,「8964」had been stuck inside the campus of PolyU for a full day. He decided to slither down the rope. From there, he could get onto one of the waiting motorbikes. He looked down from the footbridge which was higher than he expected, but he was not afraid. He knew he would not lose his life for it. There were water-filled barriers on the ground as padding but the rope was still too short. When「8964」jumped down, his right foot was caught between the water-filled barriers. When he tried to upright himself, he couldn’t stand on his foot. It turned out to be broken.
「8964」felt the pain from his foot soon after he mounted the back seat of a motorcycle. He was one of the last protesters leaving PolyU by shimmying down ropes right before this route was exposed. To avoid people suspecting his injury was from PolyU, he considered waiting two or three days before seeing a doctor. Luckily, he didn’t wait and went to the hospital right away. According to his doctor,「8964」’s calf would have been terribly swollen and the nerve crushed if he waited any longer to seek medical treatment. His doctor opened up the muscle to release pressure and fixed the tibia and fibula by putting in a steel bar. “I’m sure the doctor knew where I was injured from, but I just told him I fell while hiking at night,” said 「8964」.
PolyU was blocked until November 29th. During his hospitalization, 「8964」kept himself updated with news of PolyU. “It felt like I was betraying the protesters who were left behind at PolyU,” said 「8964」. total of 1,377 people were arrested at PolyU, including first responders and medics. The government threatened to prosecute everyone arrested with charges of rioting, of which the sentence can last up to ten years. As the siege of PolyU ended, street protests also fell silent. Some people thought that the attacks were the police’s strategy to wipe out the frontline protesters. “we should not see a decreased number of the valiant or street protests because of this PolyU incident. Instead, we’ll find that more people will come out, especially the peaceful, rational, and non-violent groups.” said「8964」.
「8964」didn’t consider himself valiant in the beginning. He was a first responder, but he did not become one of the frontline protesters until October. Coming from a single-parent family, he has a “Blue-ribbon” (pro-establishment supporting) mother. “I also have a younger brother who is in 8th grade. I have always acted as the father figure at home. My mother didn’t mind me participating in protests, but ever since my injury, she felt I wasn’t concerned enough about my own safety,” said「8964」. His mother kept asking him to stay home the nights before demonstrations. “She knew she couldn’t stop me from going out, so she found different excuses to keep me at home,” he said. 「8964」said his brother is apathetic about politics and only likes video games. To make him more aware of current political situations, whenever there is a large demonstration, 「8964」 would make his brother go with him.
Photography：Ko Chung Ming 高仲明
Text：Choi Wai Man 蔡慧敏
Translation：Joanna Ng (Switch language on top left corner)
About the series▾
Ko Chung-ming is a local Hong Kong photographer, having an over 20-year of experience in the field, he specializes in shooting photo-stories, in-depth coverage. His work 《Wounds of Hong Kong 港傷》 entered theSony World Photography Awards 2020 – Professional Group last three.
“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”Scars and bruises may fade, but we must remember what caused them.
Ko states that the purpose of《Wounds of Hong Kong》is to record police brutality, and provided an in-depth interview story with each Hong Kong people who engaged in the movement. Amnesty International Hong Kong picked 10 stories out of 24, presenting to the public.
AIHK Hong Kong Protest 1-Anniversary Website