Protester may lose right eye

Top News | Jane Cheung 13 Aug 2019

A female protester, suspected to have been hit by a police bean bag round in the face on Sunday night, ruptured her right eyeball and could lose her eye.

But there were conflicting reports as to what sort of weapon wounded the young woman, including one that suggested she was accidentally shot by fellow protesters who used steel pellet guns. Police said they are investigating.

Photos of the protester laying on the ground bleeding from her eyes and nose, posted by media sites, has become symbolic of the increasingly violent clashes between police and anti-fugitive bill protesters on the 10th weekend of unrest.

The bean bag round was said to have hit her goggles as she was outside Tsim Sha Tsui police station, and it shattered around her right eye before the plastic pieces pierced it.

Other pictures showed a broken pair of goggles with a bean bag round stuck on it, and her helmet and mask on the floor.

She was rushed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital conscious and subsequently a report was made to the police. Doctors diagnosed her with a rupture on the right eye and sustained injury to her lower eyelid.

Sources said her eye was seriously damaged and doctors have yet to determine the condition of her retina. Her condition was last night listed as serious.

An ophthalmologist said the hospital conducted emergency surgery to repair her right eyeball, lower eyelid and tear duct system to prevent bacterial infection but she would need more follow-up surgeries to reconstruct her eyeball.

"Not all rupture cases will result in permanent blindness," the eye specialist said. "But in most cases, even if patients have their vision restored, they will suffer from adverse effects such as detachment of the retina, which will eventually lead to a loss of vision."

He said apart from blindness, the woman basically "had her face ruined" because a significant portion of her face sustained serious injuries. A web user, who claimed to be the woman's younger sister, said her sister's right eye was heavily swollen and looked like an egg. She said doctors said her sister also sustained fractures on the nose bridge and brow bone.

"My sister was standing at the bus station outside the Tsim Sha Tsui police station at the time and was peeking through the gap between advertisement boards in the direction of the station," she wrote.

"She was not charging forward or making any attack but was shot in the head by police in a short distance - within eight to 10 meters."

Lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu said on Facebook page he would seek help from human rights groups to follow up on the force used on the woman.

But state-owned China Central Television said on Weibo that the woman was accidentally shot by fellow protesters who used steel pellet guns.

The report added that protesters wanted to shift the blame to police.

Meanwhile, freelance journalist Richard Scotford said on Facebook that he narrowly avoided a shot to his face when he was standing in an area far away from protesters in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday.

"About five minutes before she was shot, I literally saw and heard a white projectile fly past my face," he wrote. "There was no one else within meters of me, definitely not any black-clad protesters."

jane.cheung@singtaonewscorp.com

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