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 against an extradition bill proposed by the government of Hong Kong. If enacted, the bill would allow local authorities to detain and extradite people who are wanted in territories that Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with, including mainland China and Taiwan. Some fear the bill would place Hong Kongers and visitors under mainland Chinese jurisdiction, undermining the autonomy of the region and citizens' rights.
|2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests |
(March–June, July, August)
|Part of the Hong Kong–Mainland China conflict|
|Date||31 March 2019 – ongoing|
(4 months, 3 weeks and 4 days)
Various districts of Hong Kong and dozens of other cities abroad.
|Methods||Occupations, sit-ins, civil disobedience, mobile street protests, flash mobs, Black Blocs, Blockade, Internet activism, hacktivism, mass strikes, protest art (Lennon Walls), graffitti, hunger strikes, petitions, boycotts, advertisements, property damage, human chains|
|Parties to the civil conflict|
|Injuries and arrests|
|Death(s)||5 (all suicides)|
|Injuries||2,100+ (as of 15 August 2019)|
|Arrested||748 (as of 16 August 2019)|
|2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests|
Demonstrations against the bill began in March and April, then escalated in June. Hundreds of thousands of people marched in protests of the bill on 9 June. Protests on 12 June, the day the bill was scheduled to a second reading in the Legislative Council, marked a sharp escalation in violence. Riot police deployed tear gas and rubber bullets against demonstrators. Subsequently, investigations into police behaviour and greater accountability for their actions became part of protester demands. A larger march occurred on 16 June.
On 1 July, hundreds of thousands of people participated in the annual July marches. A portion of these demonstrators split from the march and broke into the Legislative Council Complex, vandalising central government symbols.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam suspended the extradition bill on 15 June, declaring it "dead" on 9 July, but stopped short of a full withdrawal. Executive Council members Regina Ip and Bernard Charnwut Chan said that the government does not intend to make further concessions.
Protests continued through the summer, escalating into increasingly violent confrontations, between police, activists, pro-Beijing triad members, and local residents in over 20 different neighbourhoods throughout the region. 21 July marked the Yuen Long mob attacks against protesters and bystanders.
As demonstrations continue, protesters are calling for an independent inquiry on police brutality, the release of arrested protesters, a retraction of the official characterisation of the protests as "riots", and direct elections to choose Legislative Council members and the Chief Executive.
The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 was first proposed by the government of Hong Kong on February 2019 in response to a 2018 homicide involving a Hong Kong couple in Taiwan. Hong Kong does not have an extradition treaty with Taiwan, and negotiating one would be problematic since the government of China does not recognise the sovereignty of Taiwan. To resolve this issue, the Hong Kong government proposed an amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Cap. 503) and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance (Cap. 525) that would establish a mechanism for case-by-case transfers of fugitives, on the order of the Chief Executive, to any jurisdiction with which the city lacks a formal extradition treaty. This included extradition to mainland China.
The inclusion of mainland China in the amendment is of concern to different sectors of Hong Kong society. Pro-democracy advocates fear the city's jurisdiction would merge with mainland Chinese laws administered by the Communist Party, thereby eroding the "one country, two systems" principle established since the 1997 handover. Opponents of the current bill urged the Hong Kong government to establish an extradition arrangement solely with Taiwan, and to sunset the arrangement immediately after the surrender of the suspect.
Protesters initially only demanded the withdrawal of the extradition bill. Following an escalation in police tactical response against demonstrators on 12 June and the bill's suspension on 15 June, the objective of the protesters has been to achieve these five demands:
|Complete withdrawal of the extradition bill from the legislative process||Although the bill was suspended indefinitely on 15 June, debate on it may be quickly restarted. Currently, the bill is "pending resumption of second reading" in the Legislative Council. Pro-establishment legislators, including Ann Chiang, have indicated that the legislative process on the bill could be resumed after current protests end.|
|Retraction of the "riot" characterisation||The government had originally used the word "riot" to describe 12 June protest. Later the description was amended to say there were some protesters who rioted. However protesters contest the existence of acts of rioting during the 12 June protest.|
|Release and exoneration of arrested protesters||Protesters consider the arrests to be politically motivated; they question the legitimacy of policemen arresting protesters at hospitals using their confidential medical data in breach of patient privacy.|
|Establishment of an independent commission of inquiry into police conduct and use of force during the protests||Civic groups felt that the level of violence used by the police on 12 June, specifically those against protesters who were not committing any offences when they were set upon, was unjustified; Police performing stop-and-search to numerous passers-by near the protest site without probable cause was also considered abusive. Some officers' failure to display or show their police identification number or warrant card despite being required to do so by the Police General Orders is seen to be a breakdown of accountability. The existing watchdog lacks independence, and its functioning relies on police cooperation.|
|Resignation of Carrie Lam and the implementation of universal suffrage for Legislative Council and Chief Executive elections||Currently, the Chief Executive is selected by a 1,200-member Election Committee and 30 of the 70 Legislative Council seats, known as Functional constituency are filled by limited electorates that represent different sectors of the economy.|
March – June 2019: Early stageEdit
Civil Human Rights Front, a platform for 50 pro-democracy groups, launched two protest marches against the bill on 31 March and 28 April. For the second protest, organisers claimed 130,000 participants took part in the march, the highest since the 1 July protest in 2014. The issue gained more attention when the pan-democratic Legislative Councilors launched a filibuster campaign against the extradition bill, which led Secretary of Security John Lee to announce that the government would resume the second reading of the bill in a full Legislative Council meeting on 12 June, bypassing the usual practice of scrutinising the bill in the Bills Committee. The government's hard stance on passing the controversial extradition bill, with Carrie Lam calling the opposite camp "talking trash", and the Taiwan government rejecting HKSAR's plan for extradition, also attracted significant media attention.
To oppose the second reading of the bill, which is set to be held on 12 June, the CHRF launched their third protest from Victoria Park to the Legislative Council in Admiralty on 9 June. It was the largest protests ever held in Hong Kong, as the organisers claimed that 1.03 million people, a record-breaking number, attended the rally. Despite this, Carrie Lam insisted the second reading debate on the bill would resume on 12 June, causing several student groups and Demosistō to stage a sit-in outside the Legislative Council Complex, ultimately leading to intense clashes between police officers and protesters, who retreated to Wan Chai.
Following the 9 June protests, a general strike was called on 12 June, which was answered by over 100 employers. Protesters also attempted to charge the Legislative Council building. Riot police dispersed the protesters by firing tear gas, beanbag rounds and rubber bullets. Police Commissioner Stephen Lo declared the clashes a "riot", though the police itself was also heavily condemned for using excessive force, including firing tear gas at peaceful protesters next to CITIC Tower, causing them to be trapped inside the building. The unlawful use of police batons and tear gas, the lack of identifying numbers on police officers, suspected assaults on journalists, and the subsequent hospital arrests were criticised. Following the clashes on 12 June, protesters began asking for an independent inquiry on police brutality and urging the government to retract the "riot" characterisation. 2,000 protesters from religious groups held a vigil outside the government headquarters, praying and singing hymns including "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord", which became the protest's unofficial anthem.
On 15 June, Carrie Lam announced that the bill has been suspended, though the pan-democratic camp demanded a full withdrawal of the bill. A 35-year-old man also committed suicide to protest Lam's decision that day. For the protest held on 16 June, the CHRF claimed the final turnout at "almost 2 million plus 1 citizens", which set the record of the largest protest in Hong Kong history. Following the huge protest, Carrie Lam apologised to Hong Kong citizens but refused to resign or withdraw the bill.
Protesters began to besiege the Police Headquarters on Arsenal Street on 21 and 24 June. The police took no action to disperse the protesters. Protesters also began to call for international support, as they visited the consulates of countries expected to attend the G20 Osaka summit and assembled at Edinburgh Place at night, holding signs that read "Democracy now" and "Free Hong Kong".
July 2019: Protests "blossoming everywhere"Edit
CHRF held the annual march on 1 July and claimed a record turnout of 550,000. The protest was largely peaceful. At night, protesters stormed the Legislative Council Complex, but the police took little action to stop them. Protesters smashed furniture, defaced the Hong Kong emblem, and presented a new manifesto with ten points. Some of the protesters who stormed the LegCo Complex were motivated by the desperation stemmed from several more cases of suicides since 15 June. Carrie Lam condemned the protesters who stormed the council.
Following the 1 July protest, protests began to "blossom everywhere", with protests being held in different areas in Hong Kong, both protesting against the anti-extradition bill and against some of the local issues, including the "daima" issue in Tuen Mun Park and the parallel traders issue in Sheung Shui. Lennon Walls were also set up in different neighbourhoods and became a source of conflict between pro-Beijing citizens and supporters of the protests. The first anti-extradition protest in Kowloon was held on 7 July, where protesters marched from Tsim Sha Tsui to West Kowloon station. Clashes occurred later in Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok. The police's failure to display their warrant cards drew criticism. On 9 July, Carrie Lam declared "the bill is dead", though her choice of Cantonese phrases was ambiguous and non-legally binding, leading to further doubt and skepticism.
The first anti-extradition protest in the New Territories was held in Sha Tin on 14 July. The protest was largely peaceful, though some protesters began to set up barricades and threw objects at the police after the protest. Protesters later moved to New Town Plaza and attempted to leave via Sha Tin station, though they were stopped by riot police who blocked them. Protesters then became trapped inside the Plaza, and intense clashes between protesters and police officers occurred inside. Residents unhappy with the incident gathered at New Town Plaza in the following days, questioning security officers why Sun Hung Kai Properties allowed the police to enter the plaza without any proper permit.
Attention shifted back to Hong Kong Island when the CHRF held another anti-extradition protest on 21 July. Protesters advanced past the police-mandated endpoint, and some protesters surrounded the Hong Kong Liaison Office and defaced the Chinese national emblem, an act that was condemned by the government. While a standoff between the protesters and the police occurred in Sheung Wan, white-clad groups, suspected to be triad members allegedly supported by pro-Beijing councillor Junius Ho, appeared at Yuen Long station and indiscriminately attacked people inside the station. Yuen Long became a ghost town following the attack.
On 27 July, protesters marched to Yuen Long, despite opposition from rural groups and police's objection. To disperse the protesters, the police fired tear gas in a primarily residential area and the stand-offs between the protesters and the police escalated into violent clashes inside Yuen Long station. On the next day, protesters once again defied the police ban and marched to Sai Wan and Causeway Bay. 49 people were arrested and later charged with rioting. To support the arrestees, protesters besieged the Kwai Chung police station and the Tin Shui Wai police station, where protesters were attacked by fireworks launching out of a moving vehicle.
In July, several peaceful protests were held. A group of elderly marched on Hong Kong Island to show their solidarity with the youths. Several hunger strikers also marched to Government House to demand a response from Carrie Lam. On 26 July, thousands of protesters gathered at Hong Kong International Airport and handed out leaflets and pamphlets about the controversy to tourists.
August 2019: EscalationEdit
Protesters returned to Mong Kok on 3 August, though some protesters did not follow the designated routes and headed to Mong Kok and Tsim Sha Tsui. Protesters moved barricades into the toll plaza of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel in Hung Hom, blocking vehicles. A small group of protesters also threw the Chinese national flag next to the Star Ferry pier into Victoria Harbour. The arrest of protesters in Wong Tai Sin angered the local residents, who clashed with police near the Disciplined Services quarters. The next day, two protests were held, one in Tseung Kwan O and another in Kennedy Town. Clashes between the police and protesters then occurred in various districts in Hong Kong.
5 August saw one of the city's biggest general strikes, which was answered by 350,000 people according to the Confederation of Trade Unions. Over 200 flights were cancelled due to the strike. Some citizens also blocked traffic to stop people from getting to work. Protests and sit-ins were held in seven districts in Hong Kong, including Admiralty, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan, Wong Tai Sin, Mong Kok and Tai Po. To disperse the protesters, the police force used more than 800 canisters of tear gas, a record number for Hong Kong. Protesters in North Point and Tsuen Wan were attacked by two groups of stick-wielding men, though some fought back the attackers.
From 6–7 August, after the Hong Kong Baptist University Student Union president was arrested in Sham Shui Po for possession of "offensive weapons", which were found to be laser pens, residents nearby besieged the police station and protesters gathered outside Hong Kong Space Museum to shine laser pointers on the wall of the museum.
On 11 August, protesters returned to New Territories for a protest in Tai Po, though they spread to other places in Hong Kong in the evening. On the next day, two protests were held, one in Sham Shui Po while another in Eastern District. Protesters in Sham Shui Po later moved to Tsim Sha Tsui, where the police ruptured the right eye of a female first-aider using bean bag rounds, and Kwai Chung, where the police used tear gas indoors. Meanwhile, the protest on Hong Kong Island escalated into violence when undercover police officers were found arresting other protesters in Causeway Bay. Police officers also fired pepper ball rounds within a very close range at protesters in Tai Koo station.
The alleged police brutality on 11 August prompted protesters to stage sit-ins at Hong Kong International Airport from 12 to 14 August, prompting the Airport Authority to cancel numerous flights for at least two days. On 13 August, protesters at the Airport cornered and assaulted a man suspected of being an undercover police officer and a reporter from Global Times.
Responding to the 11 August incident, a peaceful rally was held in Victoria Park by the CHRF on 18 August to condemn police brutality and reiterate the five core demands. It attracted at least 1.7 million people, who, despite a police ban, marched to Central. An additional estimated of 300,000 protesters marched between Central and Causeway Bay, but could not enter the park due to overcrowding.
On 21 August, thousands of demonstrators staged a sit-in at the Yuen Long MTR Station to commemorate the 21 July mob attacks and to remember the victims from one month ago. The protesters demanded justice, questioning why none of the arrested suspects involved in the incident had yet been charged.
On the evening of 23 August, an estimated 210,000 people participated in "The Hong Kong Way" campaign, to draw attention to the movement's five demands. At 9 pm, many covered their right eye and chanted "Corrupt cops, return the eye!" in reference to the first-aid worker who suffered a serious eye injury during a protest on 12 August. They joined hands to create a human chain 50 kilometers long, stretching across both sides of Hong Kong harbour and over the top of Lion Rock. The action was inspired by a similar event that occurred 30 years ago, on 23 August 1989. The Baltic Way Chain of Freedom involved 2 million people, stretching 675 kilometers across the territories of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as a call for independence from Soviet Russia.
There were five suicide cases closely attributed to the anti-extradition bill protests. Each person had left a suicide note that deplored the unelected and unresponsive government and the insistence by officials to force through the extradition bill; most of the individuals expressed despondency whilst urging Hongkongers to continue their fight. One note even stated: "What Hong Kong needs is a revolution."
The first person committed suicide on 15 June, when 35-year-old Marco Leung Ling-kit climbed the elevated podium on the rooftop of Pacific Place, a shopping mall in Admiralty at 4:30 pm. Wearing a yellow raincoat with the words "Brutal police are cold-blooded" and "Carrie Lam is killing Hong Kong" in Chinese written on the back, he hung a banner on the scaffolding with several anti-extradition slogans. After a five-hour standoff, during which police officers and Democratic Party legislator Roy Kwong attempted to talk him down, Leung fell to his death, missing an inflatable cushion set up by firefighters.
A shrine appeared at the scene soon afterward; Ai Weiwei shared the news on his Instagram feed, while Chinese satirist Badiucao honoured the dead man with a cartoon. On Thursday 11 July another vigil was held, in which thousands turned up leaving sunflowers at the memorial site. Artists in Prague have also honoured the event, and painted a memorial on the Lennon Wall in the Czech Republic, depicting a yellow raincoat along with words of well wishes.
A 21-year-old Education University of Hong Kong student, Lo Hiu-yan, jumped to her death from Ka Fuk Estate in Fanling on 29 June. She had left two notes written on a stairwell wall with red marker, and uploaded photos of her note to Instagram. A third suicide occurred the next day when a 29-year-old woman, Zita Wu, jumped from the International Financial Centre. On 4 July, a 28-year-old woman only identified by the surname Mak died after jumping off a building in Cheung Sha Wan. A fifth suicide occurred on 22 July, a 26-year-old man identified by the surname Fan died after jumping off the building of Cypress House, Kwong Yuen Estate after an argument with his parents about his political stance. Neighbours of Fan left flowers near the site.
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- List of protests in the 21st century
- List of biggest protests in history
- Hong Kong July 1 marches
- 2010 Hong Kong democracy protests
- 2014 Hong Kong protests
- 2016 Mong Kok civil unrest
- 2019 in Hong Kong
- Umbrella Movement
- Art of the Umbrella Movement
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- Human rights in China
- Democratic development in Hong Kong
- Human rights in Hong Kong
- Hong Kong–Mainland China conflict
- Hong Kong Way
- 2019 Yuen Long attack
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In the English version of her speech, Lam used the bog-standard 'dead' to describe the bill, a word that would be expressed in Cantonese by the character '死'. Chinese-speaking reporters and observers were quick to point out, however, that in the Cantonese version of her remarks, she used the phrase '壽終正寢', which translates to something closer to 'dying of natural causes' ... When Lam first sought to appease the protest movement by announcing the bill had been 'suspended' in English, netizens almost immediately seized on her use of the Cantonese '暫緩', which can mean suspend, but is closer to 'temporarily slow down' ... Pro-dem convenor Claudia Mo made sure there would be no debate over the meaning of her own remarks, calling Lam 'a liar,' accusing her of 'playing with words to try and pacify this community,' and calling on her to 'pay her political price' and step down.
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'The bill is dead,' Lam told a news conference, temporarily breaking into English from Cantonese to make her point. However, her phrase in Cantonese was closer to 'dying peacefully in old age.' 'There are still lingering doubts about the government's sincerity, or worries whether the government will restart the process in the Legislative Council (LegCo),' she said in an English statement immediately afterwards. 'I reiterate here there is no such plan—the bill is dead.'
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At a press conference, Carrie Lam used a Cantonese phrase to say the proposed legislation was 'reaching the end of its life.' Her government suspended the progress of the bill after demonstrations last month ... 'We suspended it and we have no timetable,' Lam said. 'What I said today is not very different from before, but maybe people want to hear a very firm response ... the bill has actually died. So people won't need to worry that there will be renewed discussions on the bill in the current legislature.' Protesters rejected her remarks and promised to continue the demonstrations. Figo Chan Ho-wun of the Civil Human Rights Front said: 'I urge Carrie Lam not to use words to deceive us. Otherwise the Civil Human Rights Front will plan our next action.'
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The 1989 event, three months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, generated worldwide attention. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania would gain full independence two years later, during the fall of the Soviet Union ... Today, inspired by the Baltic demonstrations of 1989, thousands of protesters in Hong Kong formed 'The Hong Kong Way.'
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