Protesters in Hong Kong have occupied its airport for five straight days, resulting in closures on Monday (Aug 12) and Tuesday (Aug 13).
An image of a bloodied eye and the phrase “an eye for an eye” have emerged as symbols of the latest anti-government protests.
The eye is a reference to a female medic who was allegedly blinded in one eye after police shot at the crowd in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday night (Aug 11).
Incensed protesters have rallied behind her injury as a symbol of excess police brutality toward protesters.
The sit-in protest in Hong Kong international airport continued for a fifth straight day on Tuesday (Aug 13), with protesters using the phrase “an eye for an eye” in protest against excessive police brutality, according to a report by The Straits Times (ST).
As seen on social media videos, anti-extradition protesters chanted the phrase over and over while occupying the airport’s arrival and departure halls. The airport suspended operations a second time on Tuesday evening, after managing to briefly reopen in the morning and afternoon.
As protesters moving up from the arrival hall, they chanted "5 demands, not one less" and later "Police, an eye for an eye" #HongKongProtests #HongKong #HongKongAirport #antiELAB pic.twitter.com/raW7HuG3wH
— throwawayconstant (@throwawayconst1) August 13, 2019
Couple of hours ago: protesters peacefully marching and chanting in Chinese "An eye for an eye" (referring to the shot to the young girl's eye yesterday by police) at the Hongkong airport. Now they gathered down in the arrival hall, expecting yet another police attack. pic.twitter.com/C4Px6HZOmX
— Jan Trka (@JanTrka) August 12, 2019
“An eye for an eye” took on literal meaning for protesters after a young woman was allegedly blinded in one eye after police fired a projectile into the crowd in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday night (Aug 11), ST reported.
The woman – who is believed to be a medic – was injured after the projectile penetrated her safety goggles, with viral photos on social media showing a pair of safety goggles with a beanbag round lodged in them at the spot she was allegedly hit.
— 小豆 (@EcPuiyan) August 12, 2019
HK Riot Police fired bullet and headshot a young lady. I am not sure whether her right eye will turn blind or not but it is totally insane and terrible. US should not export tear gas and rubber bullet to HK Police anymore. pic.twitter.com/R9gZKZysaO
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 (@joshuawongcf) August 11, 2019
What is a beanbag round? Defence technology company Security Devices International defines it as a projectile made of a small fabric pillow filled with lead pellets.
While it is considered a less-lethal weapon, it can cause injuries requiring “medical attention at a hospital” and even death, the company stated on its website.
Protesters have since transformed the unnamed woman’s injury into a rallying symbol, with interpretations of her bloodied eye featured on rally posters.
— Ryan Ho Kilpatrick 何松濤 (@rhokilpatrick) August 11, 2019
A very persistent “airdropper” sent me these two on the MTR. Accepted them after declining twice. The image of the girl with injured eye was one of the reasons that prompted the main theme of today’s “An eye for an eye” airport rally. #antiELAB #HongKongprotests #hongkong #hk pic.twitter.com/ylPE7NGFms
— Joanne Wong (@JOceanW) August 12, 2019
The young woman who was shot by Hong Kong police in the eye with what appeared to be bean bag round quickly becoming the latest image of tremendous anger with police and their tactics. Calls for a mass rally at the airport this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/x4FjB6asFY
— Timothy McLaughlin (@TMclaughlin3) August 12, 2019
A prominent political cartoonist known by the pen name “Badiucao” is even selling merchandise featuring artwork based on the woman’s injury.
The artist replaced her face with that of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.
🍉An Eye for An Eye🍉A young woman was shot by Hong Kong police in the eye with bean bag gun. Products link below 👇
— Badiucao's Artshop (@badiucaoartshop) August 12, 2019
Hong Kong police have denied that they were behind the injury, but did admit to releasing tear gas in multiple locations on Sunday including an MTR station, Reuters reported.
On Monday night, a sea of over 5,000 black-clad protesters in the airport covered their right eyes with eye patches or bandages in solidarity with the woman, while others sprayed the “eye for an eye” phrase onto airport walls.
The massive crowd caused the airport to shut down temporarily, with about 200 flights cancelled on Monday night. Several planes in the midst of flying to Hong Kong were forced to make U-turns.
Following the airport’s closure, Lam warned the public that continued violence between protesters and law enforcement could push the city “into the abyss”, Reuters reported.
Despite protesters’ calls for her resignation, Lam has refused to step down, saying she did not think it would provide “a better solution” to the situation.