TAIPEI (Reuters) – Hong Kong singer and activist Denise Ho was attacked on Sunday by a masked man who threw red paint at a rally in Taiwan in support of anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
Ho, who earlier this month urged members of the United States Congress to pass laws to combat human rights abuses in Hong Kong, was talking to journalists at the Taipei demonstration when the man ran to her and He poured red paint on his head.
“Many social activists in Hong Kong are subject to situations like this every day. I think this is obviously a kind of repression and intimidation, “Ho told reporters after being hit by the paint.
Two Taiwanese men were arrested immediately after the attack, the Island Crime Investigation Office said, adding that the couple was linked to an organized crime group that supports closer ties between Taiwan and China.
Organizers said around 100,000 people attended the Taipei demonstration to support anti-government protests in Hong Kong, part of a global “anti-totalitarian” demonstration before the 70th anniversary of the founding of communist China on October 1.
“I think the people of Hong Kong will not back down or be scared by situations like this,” he said, calling the incident “an attack on freedom of expression.”
“Take our will and determination to protect Taiwan’s democracy seriously,” Tsai said in a Facebook post. “This is the land of freedom and civilization, not the territory of unbridled totalitarianism. Don’t try to challenge the democracy and rule of law of Taiwan. ”
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Hong Kong, ruled by Chinese, since mid-June in protests denouncing what they perceive as a progressive interference from Beijing, a charge China denies. On Sunday there were some of the most violent clashes since the protests began, with Hong Kong police firing water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators who threw petrol bombs.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said Ho’s attackers “will be severely punished” according to the law and that Taiwan will not tolerate violence.
People in Taiwan have been watching Hong Kong closely and many have become increasingly cautious with Beijing’s “reunification” agenda for Taiwan.
China believes that democratic Taiwan is a separatist province under its control, by force if necessary, and has suggested an agreement similar to the formula of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong that guarantees certain freedoms.
Thousands of people from Hong Kong have gone to Taiwan in recent years, citing fears of Chinese erosion of the city’s freedoms.
Challenging heavy rains before a typhoon approached, many protesters in Taipei wore black and repeatedly chanted “Free Hong Kong.” Support Hong Kong. “Some carried posters that said” support Hong Kong against totalitarianism. ”
Beijing accused Taipei of supporting the Hong Kong protests, an accusation that Taiwan denies.
Commenting on Sunday’s protests around the world, Tsai said many were joining for freedom and democracy. “Everyone’s heart is with Hong Kong.”