A Hong Kong university student who fell during protests has died, marking the first student death during pro-democracy demonstrations.
Chow Tsz-lok, 22, an undergraduate student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, died of injuries early in the morning of Nov. 8 confirmed hospital authorities.
BBC journalist Stephen McDonell said Chow had been in a coma in Queen Elizabeth Hospital since his fall early on Nov. 4. “Several operations failed to improve brain swelling,” McDonell said via Twitter.
The circumstances of how Chow received his injuries are currently unclear. Police said he was believed to have fallen from one floor to another in a parking lot during weekend crowd dispersal operations in a district east of the Kowloon peninsula.
Demonstrators had thronged the hospital this week to pray for Chow, leaving flowers and hundreds of get-well messages on walls and notice boards inside the building. Students also staged rallies at universities across the former British colony.
“Wake up soon. Remember we need to meet under the LegCo,” said one message, referring to the territory’s Legislative Council, one of the targets of the protest rallies. “There are still lots of things for you to experience in your life.”
Another read: “Please add oil and stay well,” a slogan meaning “keep your strength up” that has become a rallying cry of the protest movement.
Writing on Facebook, Father Yabiso Mukonda, chairperson of the Hong Kong Diocesan Youth Commission, offered a prayer for Chow.
“Lord God, you know the depths of our hearts and you know as well that our hearts are troubled at the loss of another young life,” Father Mukonda wrote.
“This life was your gift and as such, it was precious to his family, to our society and to ourselves. Now that this gift is no longer among us, you know the pain that affects us,” wrote the priest from the CICM Missionaries.
The Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese is planning to host a memorial prayer for Chow this coming Sunday.
Students and young people have been at the forefront of the protests that started in June as a backlash against a now-scrapped piece of legislation which would have allowed criminal defendants to be transferred from Hong Kong’s independent legal system to mainland China. But anger over economic inequality in the territory, concern over perceived dissipating freedoms and shock over police use of force have mounted.