Death Threats And Suicide: Hong Kong Protests Have Taken Toll On Young Activists
Pro-democracy student activists in Hong Kong have disclosed multiple death threats against them and their families after supporting ongoing protests against the government, SCMP reports.
At least three threats were directed at student union representatives, it was disclosed at a Friday press conference. The culprits vowed to kill one victim’s family members, while others were doxxed after posters displaying their private data were posted in public.
“If you do not understand this, I can look for [the names of her parents and sister] to have a chat,” one Facebook user named Luck Lee said in a threat to student Leung Siu-yuk of Baptist University.
Leung Siu-yuk, external vice-president of Baptist University’s student union, fought back tears when she talked about how she and her family had been targeted.
Leung said she had received a sinister message from a stranger on Facebook on Wednesday asking her to think twice before supporting further protests, after unions had offered legal and financial assistance to those requiring it. –SCMP
Another student, Leung Yiu-ting – acting president of Education University’s student union, said he was doxxed as well.
“This morning, some strangers came to my home and asked my family if I was living there,” he said. “Even something happens, we will not succumb to threats and white terror.”
Meanwhile, Pang Ka-ho, acting chairman of the current affairs committee at the University of Hong Kong’s student union council, said he has been harassed over the Telegram messaging app over the past few days with threats that his family would be killed if he continued to make trouble. He says his family received a threatening call on Thursday night.
“Our family members have been under huge pressure because of the threats,” said Pang. “We hope police can investigate these issues in a fair and just way.”
Cops doxxed too
It’s not just students whose personal details are being made public. Protesters have been doxxing police officers as well. In mid-June, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu disclosed that over 400 officers and 100 of their family members had their information exposed.
According to SCMP, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data said it had received 557 complaints as of Wednesday. Of those, 402 cases (72%) involved police officers.
After nearly five months of protest against their government, a wave of young activists are willing to die – and committing suicide according to The Guardian.
Niko Cheng was ready to die in August. The 22-year-old nursing student and her fellow protesters known as “fighters” for their willingness to confront police in Hong Kong, had decided to make their last stand on 31 August.
Exhausted and weary after months of protesting, she had floated the idea of throwing herself at police and forcing them to fire on her. The other protesters talked her out of it. Still, she expected to be arrested or badly hurt.
But on the day of the march, Cheng was hit by a water cannon and forced to leave early. In the weeks afterward, instead of relief, she only felt a sense of malaise. When she lost her wallet, including her ID card, her first thought was that it didn’t matter. –The Guardian
“I had zero motivation to do anything. I just thought it was all useless, meaningless,” she said. “That’s when I realised I need to get my normal life back.”
Public health experts now say depression, anxiety and acute stress are weighing on the Hong Kong population amid the political unrest. There have been at least 9 cases of suicide linked to the demonstrations, according to the report, while social workers fear more young people will take their lives amid increasingly violent confrontations.
Public health advocates, NGOs and counsellors say the number of calls and threats of suicide they have received has increased, especially in recent weeks.
It is not just the protesters who are at risk. A study by Hong Kong University released in July found nearly one in 10 were suffering from probable depression, as well as an increase in suicidal thoughts, from 1.1% at the start of this decade.
Gabriel Leung, head of the study, said that there was little difference in prevalence among those who did or did not attend protests, suggesting a “community-wide spillover effect.” Leung called the situation a “mental health epidemic”.
“The whole of society is suffering,” said Clarence Tsang, executive director of Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong, an NGO focusing on suicide prevention. “This is generating a lot of pressure on the whole of society. At this big scale, it is affecting almost the whole population,” he said. –The Guardian
Read the rest of the report here.
Tue, 10/22/2019 – 17:45