Published: Tue, June 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Hong Kong protesters demonstrate against extradition bill

Hong Kong protesters demonstrate against extradition bill

The crowd briefly pushed its way into the lobby, but police in riot gear used batons and pepper spray to push the protesters outside.

Others carried signs calling for the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who has championed the bill despite the fact it has been criticized by a wide range of groups from the Hong Kong Law Society to the American Chamber of Commerce.

Opponents of the proposed extradition amendments say the changes would significantly compromise the territory's legal independence, long viewed as one of the key differences between Hong Kong and mainland China.

Pro-Beijing politicians on the island say the reforms are to prevent the city from becoming a sanctuary for fugitives, although current laws allow extradition of suspects accused of financial crimes or corruption.

Under the 50-year handover deal with the British, China agreed to a "one country, two systems" model where Hong Kong would keep freedom of speech and assembly rights that are unheard of on the authoritarian mainland.

She denied ignoring the huge public backlash and said her administration had already made major concessions to ensure the city's unique freedoms would be protected and that human rights safeguards met global standards. "The proposal is the most unsafe threat to our freedoms and way of life since the handover", Martin Lee, an activist who helped establish Hong Kong's Democratic Party, told the Wall Street Journal.

"We the police will definitely get to the bottom who took part in tonight's violent protests", he added.

The English-language China Daily said in an editorial more than 700,000 people had backed the legislation through an online petition, "countering a protest by about 240,000 people" - the more conservative attendance figure given by police.

"Hong Kong has made history", Jimmy Shum, one of the organisers told the crowd.

The Chief Executive said the demands of Hong Kong citizens have been heard, but insisted that the bill "will resume its second reading debate on June 12".

"I don't think it is (an) appropriate decision for us now to pull out of this bill because of the very important objectives that this bill is meant to achieve", she said on Monday. She said that it is not centered on mainland China.

A huge peaceful protest in Hong Kong against controversial plans to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland descended into violence early Monday as police clashed with small pockets of demonstrators outside the city's parliament.

Other groups in Hong Kong have also planned protests.

"There are more die-hard pro-Beijing parties" in the legislative council now, says Prof Sing, "and they have a almost zero chance of reversing their stance". Chinese lawmakers have said a guarantee of a fair trial will not be written into the bill, according to CNN.

The bill follows a high profile murder case a year ago where a Hong Kong man murdered his pregnant girlfriend on holiday in Taiwan.

"There are 1,030,000 people at today's march", an organiser told crowds outside the city's legislature at the march's end, prompting a cacophony of cheers and applause as new people arrivals continued to join.

A retired senior mainland security official said in March that Beijing had already had a list of 300 mainland criminals it wanted back from Hong Kong.

What are the Hong Kong protests are about?

However, he considers this unlikely, especially since the political environment in Hong Kong and China has changed. "People are losing their hopes for a positive future, and this was an opportunity for them to say 'enough is enough'". Protesters plan to sleep outside the Legislative Council building on Tuesday night.

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