Some Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters have expressed their regret over the events of Tuesday night, when two men were beaten by protesters during a rally at Hong Kong International Airport. The men were accused of being spies for the police.
The incident has prompted debate across the online forums used by protesters. One group even issued an apology this morning.
In separate instances during the protesters’ occupation of the airport, two men were detained, had their arms and legs ties with zip-ties, and were beaten until other protesters and firefighters were able to reach them and lead them into ambulances.
One of the men was later found to be working for Chinese state-run and strongly anti-protest newspaper Global Times.
Beijing was quick to condemn protesters’ actions, accusing them of using “terrorist-like actions”.
Many within the movement are also uneasy over yesterday’s events. They say the actions of certain protesters were sparked by a fear of undercover police, after some officers disguised themselves as protesters to make arrests last weekend.
“After months of prolonged resistance, we are frightened, angry and exhausted. Some of us have become easily agitated and overreacted last night,” one group said in a statement emailed to journalists.
“For this we feel pained and dispirited and would like to express our most sincere apologies,” the statement added.
Other protesters expressed their disapproval on LIHKG, a popular online forum used to organise rallies.
“We are not like the corrupt cops,” one user wrote. “We should admit it when we’re wrong.”
Kwok Ka-ki, a pro-democracy lawmaker, was at the airport on Tuesday after crowds had tied up the second man. He pleaded with the protesters, most of whom were young people, not to beat the man.
“We shouldn’t do anything to harm him,” he later told reporters. “Even if he was actually doing something unlawfully, we should not get into the same position as the government or the police.”
Some protesters returned to the airport today to apologise for yesterday’s events.
Others, however, both online and at the scene on Tuesday, were less apologetic. One 19-year-old, who didn’t want to be named, admitted to hitting one of the detained men.
“I don’t think this is going too far. They are the enemy,” he told reporters.
“Everyone’s emotions were really high, because there have been too many injustices done to us,” said another protester, who gave her name as Sav.
Some LIHKG users say the two men were legitimate targets.
Hong Kong is now in its 10th week of large-scale demonstrations, many of which have resulted in violent clashes between police and protesters. There have been no concessions from the Hong Kong government or Beijing. In the past week, protesters have taken their campaign to the city’s airport, causing hundreds of flights to be cancelled.