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Man set on fire by Hong Kong protesters ‘can’t recognize his own daughter’ after 10+ days in coma

Man set on fire by Hong Kong protesters ‘can’t recognize his own daughter’ after 10+ days in coma
A Chinese man set ablaze by rioters in Hong Kong, seen in a deeply disturbing video that shocked social media users, has woken up after more than 10 days in a coma but faces a long and painful recovery – both in body and mind.

The construction worker, identified only by his last name, Lee, engaged in a verbal dispute with a group of protesters, who were rampaging through a metro station in Ma On Shan – a district in central Hong Kong – on November 11. Angered by his insistence that “we are all Chinese,” the rioters drenched the man in a flammable liquid and set him on fire right in front of shocked bystanders.

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Lee, who suffered from severe burns covering almost half of his body, spent more than 10 days in intensive care while in a coma. Following two skin grafting operations, he was transferred to a specialized center for burns.

Most of his body is still bandaged and his face still bears the scars and marks of extensive burns. The medics are still cautious about his recovery prospects as it is still uncertain whether the transplanted skin will be rejected. In any event, the man is about to face an extremely long and painful process of recovery.

It is not just his body that has suffered, though. According to his wife, who spoke to Xinhua news agency, Lee still does not recognize his own daughter and suffers from panic attacks in the presence of unknown people. 

“He just knows me. When one or two more people came in the ward, he appeared to be very scared, like somebody may attack him.” 

The woman still struggles to understand why her husband was subjected to such horrors. “He had never argued with people on the street, and I think he just could not stand those people destroying the metro station,” his wife, who refused to reveal her identity out of fear of repercussions, said. “I was heartbroken and I just couldn't accept that fact,” she added, explaining that her husband “is such a good person.”

“The first thing he told me [after he woke up] was that they [rioters] have no humanity and that I should be careful on the street.”

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The construction worker was the sole provider for his family and his injuries have left his wife and daughter almost stranded. Yet, many Hong Kong residents moved by the tragedy offered their support to the family by donating them money and sending letters.

Local lawmaker Elizabeth Quat told Xinhua that her “office phone kept ringing as people wanted to know Lee’s condition … They wanted to express their support and some asked for the address to send a cheque."

Hong Kong has been engulfed by massive demonstrations for about six months. What began as peaceful protests against a now-abandoned extradition bill with mainland China soon spiraled into violent anti-government riots marred by clashes between the protesters and police. Lately, rioters have increasingly relied on petrol bombs and Molotov cocktails in their standoffs with law enforcement – even though it sometimes ends badly for protesters themselves.

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