July 23, 2019
Latest News

Over 1 million protesters stage Hong Kong rally

Hong Kong, China, Jun 16 (efe-epa).- Over one million people in Hong Kong took part in a massive protest Sunday calling for the complete withdrawal of the controversial extradition bill and the resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam, EFE reported from the scene.

The protest, which kicked off with several thousand, grew quickly and by 20.50 local time (12.50 GMT) demonstrators had filled Tamar Park, near the Parliament building, as well as the main avenues and adjacent streets spanning some 2 kilometers.

Many of the million-strong crowd threatened with remaining put throughout the night.

"Until midnight this is legal, after that we shall see what happens, but our intention is to stay here until we have a response," Kelly Chan, a university undergraduate, told Efe.

"The extradition bill must be scrapped, it is not enough to just suspend it in order to later revisit it once things have calmed down," Wei Wei Lam, a marketing expert, added.

All the demonstrators Efe spoke too agreed the protest on Sunday was much larger than this week's walkouts on Wednesday and Sunday.

Lam issued a statement at 20.30 (local time), six hours after the demonstration kicked off, in which she apologized but did not say she would resign.Protesters, the vast majority of whom were dressed in black as a symbol of what they consider to be a loss of democracy in Hong Kong, urged Lam, who has only suspended the bill temporarily, to condemn the excessive use of police force during the protests Wednesday.

The demonstration, which left Victoria Park and was heading towards the Legislative Council headquarters, also held a minute's silence for the death of a young man who fell from scaffolding Saturday night while trying to put up a poster, and many were seen to wear bows and flowers as a sign of mourning.

Youths along with families and children participated in the protest carrying banners with the slogans "Stop the violence, we are not rioters" and "No to police brutality" amid demands for all charges to be dropped against those arrested during protests.

Lam on Saturday backed down and announced the suspension until further notice of the controversial legislative proposal that would allow those accused of certain crimes to be extradited to China.

Lam's change of stance, which had strongly been in defense of the bill, came after meeting with her government and after some political leaders urged her to postpone it or suspend it.

Sunday's march is a follow-up to the protests last Wednesday, when hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets to call for the bill to be canceled, though at the time they only achieved a postponement of its second reading in the Legislative Council.

Police dispersed crowds in front of the legislature that day, firing tear gas and rubber bullets which left 81 people wounded, two of whom are in a serious condition, while 11 people were arrested, according to the authorities.

Hours before the march began, the Civil Human Rights Front expressed its support for the general strike called in Hong Kong by trade unions on Jun. 17 and urged Hong Kong citizens to join it.

"What is important is that there will be no more Legislative Council meetings to pass the law now. It may not be the first priority to go there," said CHRF Vice-Convenor Bonnie Leung, adding that organizations must prepare for the future because the postponement "is not a victory, (it) is a tactic to buy time."

Proposed in February, the bill passing into law would allow the chief executive's headquarters and the Hong Kong courts to process extradition requests from jurisdictions without prior agreement - in particular mainland China and Taiwan - and without legislative supervision.

Opponents of the bill, which include a broad spectrum of Hong Kong society, fear that the new law could mean that local activists, critical journalists and dissident residents of Hong Kong could also be sent to mainland China for trial.

jg-jco/sp/ses/ch

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