PROMINENT Hong Kong Democratic Party figure Howard Lam said on Friday he had been attacked by a group of men who put staples into his legs for being “unpatriotic.”
During a nine-hour ordeal last week, Lam said he was falsely imprisoned, beaten and intimidated by Mandarin-speaking men before being dumped on a beach. Hong Kong is predominantly Cantonese-speaking, suggesting they were mainland Chinese agents.
“I am not sure whether I was in mainland or Hong Kong,” he said of the incident as quoted by Hong Kong Free Press.
During a press conference on Friday, Lam showed reporters where on his legs his capturers put staples into in the shape of crosses – allegedly because he is a Christian. The four or five men that attacked him accused Lam of being “unpatriotic.”
Lam claimed he also received a call from a mainland Chinese person affiliated with Beijing’s security agencies who warned him not to make contact or send a signed photo of Barcelona football star Lionel Messi to the wife of late Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
The 61-year-old Nobel laureate Liu, who died last month of multiple organ failures after Chinese authorities denied him access to seek treatment overseas, was reportedly a fan of Messi.
Protesters gathered in Hong Kong on Saturday to call for the release of Liu’s widow Liu Xia, who disappeared a month ago after his funeral.
“This is either to warn off the people of Hong Kong or create problems between Xi and Hong Kong,” said democracy activist Lee Cheuk-yan of Lam’s attack, as quoted by Reuters. “We do not know the whole objective of the beating up. Both may be the case.”
Mainland agents have previously abducted Hong Kong booksellers who specialised in politically sensitive material, highlighting Beijing’s increasingly open attempts to tighten its grip on the special administrative region.
Chinese authorities have repeatedly claimed Hong Kong’s autonomy is fully respected and that its agents would never do anything in breach of the law.
Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers marched in protest against President Xi Jinping’s visit to Hong Kong in July, during which he oversaw the swearing-in of the city’s first female leader Carrie Lam.