2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests
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The 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests are a series of demonstrations in Hong Kong and other cities[which?] around the world, demanding the withdrawal of the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 proposed by the Government of Hong Kong. It is feared that the bill would cause the city to open up to mainland Chinese law and that people from Hong Kong could become subject to a different legal system.
|2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests|
|Date||28 April 2019 – ongoing|
(1 month, 2 weeks and 6 days)
|Methods||Occupations, sit-ins, civil disobedience, mobile street protests, internet activism, mass strike|
|Parties to the civil conflict|
|Death(s)||1 (suicide, 15 June)|
|Injuries||72 (as of 12 June 2019)|
|Arrested||30 (as of 14 June 2019)|
Various protests have been launched in Hong Kong by the general public and legal communities. Among these, the 9 June protest organised by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), which the organization estimates was attended by 1.03 million people, has gained wide mass media coverage. Protests in other places were also staged by overseas Hongkongers and locals. The protests are the largest protests in Hong Kong since the Umbrella Movement in 2014.
Despite the widespread demonstrations, the government insists on the bill's passage, stating that the bill is urgent and that the legal "loophole" should be fixed. The second reading was originally scheduled on 12 June but was not held due to protests, and a scheduled meeting on the next day, 13 June, was also postponed.
On 15 June 2019, the bill was indefinitely delayed by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam. However, she also made it clear in her remarks that the bill was simply being delayed, not withdrawn. This led to a protest suicide at Pacific Place a few hours later. Another mass protest, urging the government to withdraw the bill and for Lam to step down as chief executive started from Victoria Park on 16 June 2019.
The organizers of the 16 June 2019 protest claim nearly two million people joined the protest. If the claims are accurate, it would be the largest protest in Hong Kong's history.
The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 (Chinese: 2019年逃犯及刑事事宜相互法律協助法例(修訂)條例草案) is a proposed bill regarding extradition to amend the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Cap. 503) in relation to special surrender arrangements and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance (Cap. 525) so that arrangements for mutual legal assistance can be made between Hong Kong and any place outside Hong Kong. The bill was proposed by the Hong Kong government in February 2019 to request the surrender of a Hong Kong suspect in a homicide case in Taiwan. The government proposed to establish a mechanism for transfers of fugitives not only for Taiwan, but also for Mainland China and Macau, which are not covered under the existing laws.
First protest: 31 MarchEdit
The first protest, launched by Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) on 31 March started from Luard Road (Southorn Playground) and ended at Civic Square. Protesters chanted "With extradition to the mainland, Hong Kong becomes a dark prison" and "Stop the evil law".
Lam Wing-kee, the owner of Causeway Bay Books who disappeared along with his other colleagues in 2015, led the rally along with other pro-democracy group members. Lam has since left Hong Kong for Taiwan due to fears for his personal security.
The organisation said that 12,000 attended the march, while the Hong Kong Police Force estimated just 5,200 people. The organisers stated that there would be further protests if the government still insisted with the bill.
Second protest: 28 AprilEdit
On 28 April, 130,000 protesters joined the march against the proposed extradition law according to organisers, while police estimated that only 22,800 joined. The turnout was the largest since an estimated 510,000 joined the annual 1 July protest in 2014. The rally started from Causeway Bay to the Legislative Council in Admiralty, which is a 2.2 km route. It took more than 4 hours. Vice-convenor of the CHRF, Figo Chan Ho-hang, threatened to escalate its opposition if the government did not withdraw the bill.
A day after the protest, Chief Executive Carrie Lam was adamant that the bill would be enacted and said the Legislative councillors had to pass new extradition laws before their summer break, even though the man at the heart of the case used to justify the urgency of new legislation Chan Tong-kai had been jailed for 29 months shortly before. Chan received a prison sentence of 29 months on 29 April. However, since he had already been detained for 13 months since his arrest in Hong Kong, his sentence would end in August 2020. Secretary for Security John Lee said that Chan could be released by October at the earliest since good behaviour in prison can result in a one-third reduction of a prisoner's sentence, and he would then be free to leave the city.
Lawyers' silent march: 6 JuneEdit
In a rare protest, more than 3,000 Hong Kong lawyers, representing around one quarter of the city's lawyers, marched against the bill. Wearing black, they marched from the Court of Final Appeal to the Central Government Offices on 6 June. They then stood in front of the government headquarters looking at the building for three minutes silently.
The march was organised by Dennis Kwok, Legislative Councillor for the Legal constituency. It was the fifth, and largest, protest march held by lawyers in Hong Kong since 1997 after a series of intrusions by the Chinese Government.
While lawyers expressed grave reservations about the openness and fairness of the justice system in China, limited access to a lawyer, and the prevalence of torture, Secretary for Security John Lee said the legal sector did not really understand the bill. A senior barrister complained that government's inability or unwillingness to listen was polarising, adding that it was "so stupid, so arrogant".
Third protest: 9 JuneEdit
Protest in Hong KongEdit
In response to the proposed bill, the Civil Human Rights Front called a march from Victoria Park, Causeway Bay to the Legislative Council in Admiralty on 9 June—an approximately 3km (1.86mi) route. Hundreds of thousands of protesters were drawn to the street, wearing white to symbolise "light and brightness" and justice, chanting "Scrap the evil law," "Oppose China extradition" and "Carrie Lam resign" and waving Taiwanese flags on the day.
Protesters brought Hong Kong Island to a halt from early afternoon until late at night. The MTR enacted crowd control measures in which the police ordered trains not to stop at Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Tin Hau stations for several hours. Protesters had to get off at Fortress Hill in order to join the protest from there. Police urged protesters to march from Victoria Park before the 3 pm start-time to ease overcrowding. During the march, there were several times when protesters come to a standstill due to the limited road space. People demanded that the police opened up more roads. It was only after some protesters climbed over a metal barricade and walked on lanes originally reserved for traffic that police opened up all lanes on Hennessy Road, having previously refused to do so.
A huge number of protesters were still leaving Victoria Park up to four hours after the start time and were still arriving at the end-point at Admiralty seven hours after the protest began.
Jimmy Sham, convener of the CHRF said that 1.03 million people attended the march—the largest protest Hong Kong has seen since the 1997 handover—surpassing the turnout seen at mass rallies in support of the Tiananmen protests of 1989 and 1 July March 2003. The police countered with an estimate of 270,000 at its peak. In the Hong Kong Free Press, Evan Fower noted that the police had "become notorious for using highly selective methods to significantly underreport numbers, but that the demonstration was "beyond doubt ... the largest one-day protest in Hong Kong's history".
Other than the march, more than a dozen ships carrying banners with slogans supporting the bill cruised Victoria Harbour. Around 20 supporters from the Safeguard Hong Kong Alliance—a pro-government group—showed up at Tamar to support the bill around 12 pm.
Hundreds of protesters camped out in front of the government headquarters well into the night, with more joining them in response to calls from Demosisto and pro-independence activists. The Civil Human Rights Front officially called an end to the march at 10 pm, however, around 100 protesters remained at the Civic Square.
Pro-independence groups, Student Localism and the Students Independent Union, called for protesters to stay after the day march and storm the legislative council. Some protesters called for street occupations as a further show of strength, while others insisted of a peaceful protest. Still, around 500 people occupied Harcourt Road and Lung Wo Road, while police urged protesters to leave.
A stand-off with police around midnight descended into chaos following a press release from the Hong Kong government stating the bill reading would continue as planned—unchanged from before the protests. Protesters in Civic Square, most of them wearing face masks, threw bottles and metal barriers at the police, while the police tried to drive them away with batons and pepper spray. Anti-riot officers arrived, and warned protesters that they would "command appropriate force".
Protesters in Harcourt Road and Lung Wo Road moved simultaneously, and threw metal barricades placed by the police. They then protested and chanted in Gloucester Road. SCMP commented the night protest as "the scene of bigger clashes during the 2014 Occupy movement for greater democracy". The protest ended at around 3 am, with several police officers and protesters injured. There were 19 arrests; 358 protesters (80% younger than 25) were stopped and searched near the Old Wan Chai Police Station, and had their ID recorded.
Solidarity protests around the worldEdit
At least 29 rallies were held in 12 countries with protesters taking to the streets in cities around the world with significant Hong Kong diaspora, including about 4,000 in London, about 3,000 in Sydney, and further rallies in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Toronto, Vancouver, Berlin, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Taipei. As one of the biggest overseas protests, hundreds of demonstrators mostly made up of Hong Kong immigrants filled the street outside the Chinese consulate-general in Vancouver with yellow umbrellas (referencing the 2014 Umbrella Movement) and chants against the extradition law. More than 60 people gathered outside the White House in Washington to protest against the bill.
Fourth protest: 12 JuneEdit
Protests in Hong KongEdit
Protests resumed on 12 June following an announcement from the government that the bill will continue its reading. Sit-ins in the government headquarters have taken place since the morning. It is alleged that the police intentionally prevented new protestors from reaching the designated protest site. As the crowd built up at the MTR exit on the other side of the footbridge to the government headquarters, skirmishes occurred and eventually the crowd broke into Harcourt Road, the main traffic route of Hong Kong Island. An hours-long occupation by tens of thousands followed, mimicking the 2014 Umbrella Movement.
In the afternoon, the police fired 150 tear gas rounds, 20 beanbag shots, several rubber bullets and smoke bombs on protesters outside the Legislative Council complex. Protesters, while chanting "withdraw!" and moving barricades, wore face masks, goggles, umbrellas and makeshift body armour to protect themselves.
The government and police controversially declared that the protest had "turned into a riot". Seventy-two people aged between 15 and 66 have been injured, with two men in a critical condition. SCMP stated that the protests were "reminiscent of—and even more intense than—the Occupy protests of 2014".
The police have been blamed for their actions during the protests. The pro-democracy camp condemned the level of force used and stated that the force used is not proportional as protesters are "weapon-less young people". The Hong Kong Journalists Association said that the police "trampled on reporters", and that the police has ignored the safety of the reporters. They complained that the police have unreasonably interfered their work with flashlights and by dispersing them. HKJA added that some police officers has insulted them with foul language, called them "trash", and shouted to them "reporters have no special privilege".
Overnight, 2,000 protesters from religious groups held a vigil outside the government offices, with some singing hymns and joining in prayers. Various trade unions, businesses and schools also vowed to stage protests. The Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union called for a city-wide strike for a week. At least 4,000 Hong Kong teachers have followed the call.
Solidarity protests in Taiwan and AustraliaEdit
In Taipei, representatives from 24 Taiwanese civic groups, including Taiwan Association for Human Rights, protested outside Hong Kong's representative office in Taipei, while shouting slogans such as "Taiwan supports Hong Kong." In Kaohsiung, around 150 Hong Kong students staged a sit-in protest requesting the Hong Kong government to withdraw the bill.
Mothers' sit-in protest: 14 JuneEdit
On the morning of 12 June, Carrie Lam fielded an interview on TVB, in which she lamented that as a mother, she would not have tolerated her children's behaviour if they were to protest violently, as the young protesters did on 12 June. That night, a group of women barristers and scholars from Chinese University launched an online petition stating that "the people of Hong Kong are not your children, Chief Executive" and that mothers would never "attack their children with teargas, shoot them with rubber bullets or attack them with bag bombs." On 14 June, an estimated 6,000 people (according to the organisers), mostly mothers, staged a sit-in in the evening for three hours in Chater Garden. The protesters, dressed in black and holding carnations, called on Carrie Lam to step down and the government to retract the bill. The organisers also said they had collected more than 44,000 signatures in a petition condemning the views Lam expressed in the interview.
Protest suicide: 15 JuneEdit
Following Carrie Lam's announcement that the extradition bill will not be scrapped and that she will not resign or apologise, at 16:30, a 35-year-old male protester surnamed Leung stood on the elevated podium on the rooftop of Pacific Place, a shopping centre in Admiralty. He wore a yellow raincoat with the words "Brutal police are cold blooded" and "Carrie Lam is killing Hong Kong" scrawled on the back. He put on a sign that said "Entirely withdraw China extradition Bill. We were not rioting. Release students and the injured. Carrie Lam, step down."
At 21:15, legislator Roy Kwong and other protesters arrived to persuade him not to jump, and several firefighters tried to rescue him. Nonetheless, the man plunged to his death from the rooftop scaffolding, deliberately missing the inflatable cushion set up by the firefighters. Firefighters provided first aid to the protester immediately, and he was sent to Ruttonjee Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 21:34. A note was later found by the police, and Leung's death is hence classified as suicide.
Fifth protest: 16 JuneEdit
Protest in Hong KongEdit
Following the announcement made by Carrie Lam to suspend to extradition bill in 15 June, Civil Human Rights Front called for another protest in the next day for Lam's refusal to apologise for police violence towards protesters, and Lam's classification of her errors as merely "of communication, not substance".  The protest calls for Lam's resignation, complete withdrawal of the bill, apology for "disproportionally violent" police tactics towards peaceful protestors, the release of arrested protesters, and to withdraw the official slander of the protest on 12 June as "riot". Opposition leaders also denouncing the bill's suspension as merely a tactical retreat.
The march started early at 2:30 pm, following the same route as the 9 June protest. It started from Victoria Park, Causeway Bay to the Legislative Council in Admiralty on 9 June – an approximately 3km (1.86mi) long route. Protesters, chanting "withdraw", "students are innocent" and "Carrie Lam, step down!", wore in black instead of white, to show their anger towards police's excessive force.  Some also held white flowers and paper flowers to pay tribute to the man who committed suicide on 15 June, they placed their flowers to the site during the march. Due to the large number of protesters, the MTR enacted crowd control measures, in which the police ordered trains not to stop at Tin Hau and Causeway Bay stations for several hours.
At night, protesters moved to Harcourt Road, causing traffic to grind to a halt and vehicles to turn back. Protesters, showing their co-operation, gave way to the trapped vehicles, mainly franchised buses and emergency vehicles. At night time, people lit up their phones to show solidarity.
In the afternoon, Radio France Internationale reported that Stand News, an independent online news agency, used big data to predict that at most 1.44 million would have participated in the protest. At 11:00 pm, the organizer of the rally stated that there is "almost 2 million plus 1 citizens", denoting the protester who passed away on the day before, had participated in the protest. The police says that there are 338,000 at its peak, but admits that it should be more as only those on the original route were counted.
Solidarity protests around the worldEdit
In Taipei, a group of Hong Kong students and local supporters held a peaceful sit-in at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei to support the protest in Hong Kong. In Adelaide, around 500 people gathered to demand Carrie Lam to withdraw the bill and apologise for her actions. Around 1500 people protested outside the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver.
From May 2019 onwards, multiple petitions against the Bill from over 200 secondary schools, various industries, professions and neighbourhoods were created. There are also different petitions in different websites around the world, including We the People and Change.org. Generally, the petitions request governments in Western countries to respond to the extradition bill and hold the officials who pushed the Bill forward accountable and reprehensible by the means of sanctioning and through revoking their citizenship. One petition urged France to strip Carrie Lam of her Legion of Honour award.
The protests were mostly censored from Mainland Chinese social media, such as Sina Weibo. Keyword searches of "Hong Kong," "HK" and "extradition bill" led to other official news and entertainment news. Accounts that posted content regarding the protest were also blocked. By 14 June, censors were said to be working overtime to erase or block news of the protests on social media. "People are very curious and there is a lot of discussion on this event," according to a Weibo censor. On Sina Weibo and Tencent-owned WeChat, the term "let's go Hong Kong" was blocked with the platform citing "relevant laws, regulations and policies" as the reason for not showing search results.
Lulu Yilun Chen of Bloomberg News stated that protesters had been using Telegram to communicate in order to conceal their own identity and prevent tracking by the Chinese government and Hong Kong Police Force. The app's servers were under distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS attacks) on 12 June. The app's founder Pavel Durov identified the origin of the attack as China, and stated that it "coincided in time with protests in Hong Kong".
- Hong Kong – Carrie Lam declined to answer questions at a public appearance in Ocean Park on 9 June afternoon after a massive protest broke out. At 11 pm, the government issued a press statement, saying that it "acknowledge[s] and respect[s] that people have different views on a wide range of issues", but insisted the second reading debate on the bill would resume on 12 June as is. Following the clashes outside LegCo on early 10 June, Lam spoke in the next morning alongside Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng and Secretary for Security John Lee, stating the size of the rally "was admittedly significant", and showed there were "clearly still concerns" over the bill but refused to withdraw it. In a video published by the Hong Kong government news agency, the Information Services Department, Carrie Lam blamed the protesters for "organising a riot" that posed a threat to the security of the people. In another interview with TVB, Lam said in tears that she had not "sold Hong Kong out", and that she loved and had made sacrifices for the city, but insisted that the bill would not be withdrawn. Democratic Party LegCo member James To responded that many people in society, including himself, felt that Lam loved power and approval more than Hong Kong. Ivan Choy, political scientist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said that "Carrie Lam has a high opinion of herself. The social [protest] movement had long died down, and she was so confident that she thought she could rush [the extradition bill] through." It is reported by Reuters that Hong Kong's judges, who were typically reticent, were worried about the extradition bill as it "threatened to send people for trial in mainland China for the first time". Carrie Lam also bluntly dismissed concerns regarding forced confessions, arbitrary detentions and one-sided trials with 99% conviction rate, and said judges were not supposed to speak. On 15 June, the bill was delayed by Carrie Lam until no later than October 2019.
- People's Republic of China – After the first protest, the Beijing government blamed "outside interference" and voiced its support to the Hong Kong administration. The Foreign Ministry accused opponents of the proposed legislation of "collusion with the West". State-run media such as China Daily cited more than 700,000 people backing the legislation through an online petition, "countering a protest by about 240,000 people" while the Global Times dismissed the mass demonstration on 9 June, stating that "some international forces have significantly strengthened their interaction with the Hong Kong opposition in recent months". Someone familiar with Beijing and declined to be named reportedly told Reuters that "the outcome doesn't bear thinking about if this situation wasn't turned around," and that "Beijing now had severe doubts about Lam's capabilities."
- Taiwan – President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Tsai Ing-wen expressed her solidarity with the people of Hong Kong, remarking that Taiwan's democracy was hard-earned and had to be guarded and renewed, and pledged that one country, two systems would never be an option as long as she was president, citing the constant and rapid deterioration of Hong Kong's democracy in merely 20 years' time. She also posted on Instagram to provide support for "Hongkongers on the front line", saying that the Taiwanese people would support all those who fight for free speech and democracy. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan stated that they stood shoulder to shoulder with the hundreds of thousands in Hong Kong fighting against the extradition bill and for rule of law, adding, "Taiwan is with you!". They also criticised Hong Kong officials of using Taiwan as an excuse to pass the extradition bill, citing the Hong Kong government's indifference of "multiple requests" to extradite Chan Tong-kai on a case-by-case basis.
- Canada– Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland released a statement on 12 June 2019, stating that "Canada has been following" the bill, re-affirming that this was one of the largest protests in Hong Kong's history which demonstrates Hong Kong people's deep concerns over this matter. In the statement, she wrote that "Canada remains concerned of the potential effects these proposals may have on the large number of Canadian citizens in Hong Kong, on business confidence, and on Hong Kong's international reputation". The statement urges the Hong Kong government to listen to the people and the international community, as well as to safeguard the high degree of autonomy, rule of law, and independent judiciary of the territory.
- United States – U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus voiced support for the 9 June protesters, saying that "the peaceful demonstration of hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers yesterday clearly shows the public's opposition to the proposed amendments." They also called on the Hong Kong government to ensure that "any amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance should be pursued with great care." United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi strongly condemned the bill and offered support to the protesters. "The hearts of all freedom-loving people were moved by the courage of the one million men and women of Hong Kong who took to the streets on Sunday to peacefully demand their rights, defend their sovereignty and denounce this horrific extradition bill" and that America stands with the people in Hong Kong. President Donald Trump responded that he is sure that China and Hong Kong "will be able to work it out". He also affirmed that there "was a million people" and stated that it "was as big a demonstration as I’ve ever seen".
- United Kingdom – Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt urged the Hong Kong government to listen to the concerns of the protesters, stating that "it is essential that the authorities engage in meaningful dialogue and take steps to preserve Hong Kong's rights and freedoms and high degree of autonomy, which underpin its international reputation". He added that upholding the one country, two systems principle, which is legally bound in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, is vital to Hong Kong's future success. The British Consulate in Hong Kong has also opened its doors for protesters needing sanctuary.
- European Union – Parliamentary leader Guy Verhofstadt stated that scenes were inspirational for making a stand for human rights and the rule of law and that Europe was watching.
- Japan – Tarō Kōno, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, said, "I strongly hope that things will be settled early and Hong Kong's freedom and democracy will be maintained".
- South Korea – The Bareunmirae Party, a minority party, stated that the party supports Hong Kong protesters, adding that the "Bareunmirae Party support the democratization movement in Hong Kong. We hear Hong Kong's cry for freedom and democracy with a strong echo."
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