Thousands take to Hong Kong streets to protest new extradition laws
Robie de Guzman • April 29, 2019 • 1393
Thousands of people marched to Hong Kong’s legislative council on Sunday to protest against proposed extradition rules that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial.
Some feared the move puts the city’s core freedoms at risk.
Opponents of the proposal fear further erosion of rights and legal protections in the free-wheeling financial hub — freedoms which were guaranteed under the city’s handover from British colonial rule to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
Several thousand people had joined the march along Hong Kong island from Causeway Bay to the council in the Admiralty business district.
Protesters expressed fears that the new legislation would put ordinary Hong Kongers at risk.
“Once this law has been passed it won’t matter if you are an average person or a foreigner coming through Hong Kong, there will be a real possibility you’ll be taken and sent off to the mainland,” said Jayson Shing, a bank employee.
“It basically won’t matter whether you travel into the mainland. Just staying here in Hong Kong it’s hopeless anyway. The way they have organized this, as soon as they want to extradite you, it’s hopeless. The scariest thing is that in the mainland they can detain you via executive order, no crime is needed,” legal clerk Edward Wen said.
The peaceful marchers also chanted demands for Hong Kong’s executive Carrie Lam to step down, saying she had “betrayed” Hong Kong.
Many sported yellow umbrellas — the symbol of the Occupy civil disobedience movement that paralyzed parts of Hong Kong for 11 weeks in 2014. (REUTERS)
The United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Canada scolded China on Thursday (May 28) for imposing a new security law that they said would threaten freedom and breach a 1984 Sino-British agreement on the autonomy of the former colony.
British foreign minister Dominic Raab said the four countries were “deeply troubled” by the decision of China’s People’s Congress, which democracy activists in Hong Kong fear could erode its freedoms and jeopardise its role as a global financial hub.
China says the legislation will aim to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in the city but the plan, unveiled in Beijing last week, triggered the first big protests in Hong Kong for months.
Raab said Britain will give greater visa rights to British national overseas (BNO) passport holders from Hong Kong unless China suspends the proposed security laws. (Reuters)
China’s National People’s Congress’ third session closed on Thursday (May 28) after parliament members voted on a proposal to implement Hong Kong’s national security legislation.
“The session made a decision to establish a legal system and enforcement mechanism for the national security of Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region,” chairman of the standing committee of the NPC, Li Zhanshu, told delegates at the closing ceremony.
“It will uphold and improve the ‘one country, two systems’ policy. It is in line with the Constitution and Hong Kong’s Basic Law and is in the interest of all Chinese people including Hong Kong people,” he added.
The legislation received 2,878 votes while one voted against and six abstained. The draft national security law has received international criticism with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declaring that Hong Kong is ‘no longer autonomous.’
Hong Kong, which has freedoms not granted in the mainland such as freedom of assembly and freedom of the press, has experienced months-long anti-government protests which sparked from a now-withdrawn extradition bill. (Reuters)
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday (May 26) that Beijing’s proposed national security laws would not trample on the city’s rights and freedoms and called on its citizens to wait to see the details of the legislation.
Beijing unveiled plans last week for national security legislation for Hong Kong that aims to tackle secession, subversion and terrorist activities. It could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in the city.
Thousands poured onto the street of Hong Kong on Sunday (May 24) in a mass protest against the planned new security laws.
Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd and arrested almost 200 people.
More protests are expected in Hong Kong on Wednesday (May 27). (Reuters)
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