List of early 2019 Hong Kong protests
This is a list of 2019 Hong Kong protests from March to June. These protests are considered the early stage of the movement, starting with the first demonstrations after the publication of the 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill on March 29 and going up to the last protests in June before the annual 1 July march and subsequent increases in activity.
31 March demonstrationEdit
The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), a platform for 50 pro-democracy groups, launched its first protest march against the bill on 31 March, from Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to the Central Government Complex in Admiralty. Claudia Mo, pro-democracy camp's convener, and Lam Wing-kee, the owner of Causeway Bay Books who had been kidnapped by Chinese agents in 2015, led the rally. High-profile democracy activists, like Cardinal Joseph Zen, barristers Martin Lee and Margaret Ng, and Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai, also attended the rally. Organisers claimed 12,000 people took part in the march, while police put the peak figure at 5,200.
28 April marchEdit
The second protest march against the extradition bill began at East Point Road, Causeway Bay and headed to the Legislative Council in Admiralty. The march lasted over four hours. While police estimated 22,800 protesters, organisers claimed 130,000 participants. The latter figure was the highest since the estimated 510,000 that organisers claimed joined the annual 1 July protest in 2014.
The next day, Chief Executive Carrie Lam remained adamant that the bill would be enacted and said the Legislative councillors had to pass the new extradition laws before their summer break. Lam said Chan Tong-kai, the murder suspect, could be out of prison by October, hence the urgency of passing the extradition bill. Although Chan received a prison sentence on 29 April, Secretary for Security John Lee expected that Chan could be free to leave Hong Kong early for good behaviour.
6 June lawyers' silent marchEdit
Legal professionals concerned about the extradition bill also staged a silent march on 6 June. In black attire, lawyers, legal academics and law students marched from the Court of Final Appeal to the Central Government Offices. Dennis Kwok, Legislative Councillor for the Legal constituency, and Martin Lee and Denis Chang, two former Hong Kong Bar Association chairmen, led the march. The group of lawyers stood silently in front of government headquarters for three minutes. Kwok said, "We shall not bow our heads [to the government]". More than 3,000 lawyers, representing around one-quarter of the city's legal professionals, attended the march – the fifth and largest protest march held by lawyers in Hong Kong since 1997.
While the protesting lawyers expressed reservations about openness and fairness of the justice system in China, Secretary Lee had previously said the legal sector did not really understand the bill and some had not read the bill before protesting.
9 June protestEdit
Before the government tabled the extradition bill's second reading in the Legislative Council on 12 June, the CHRF had called Hong Kong people to march against the bill on 9 June through an approximately 3 km (1.86 mi) route from Victoria Park to the Legislative Council in Admiralty.
Police ordered MTR to bypass Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Tin Hau stations for several hours. Protesters exited at Fortress Hill to join the protest. Police urged protesters to start off before the official 3 pm start-time to ease overcrowding; police were forced to open up all lanes on Hennessy Road, having previously refused to do so. A significant 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 10 pm.
Reports suggested it could have been the largest ever, and certainly 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 demonstration of 2003. CHRF convenor Jimmy Sham said that 1.03 million people attended the march, while the police put the crowd at 240,000 at its peak.
Hundreds of protesters camped in front of the government headquarters well into the night, with more joining them in response to calls from Demosistō and pro-independence activists. Police formed a human chain to prevent protesters from entering Harcourt Road, the main road next to government headquarters, while Special Tactical Squad (STS) was on standby. Although the CHRF had officially called an end to the march at 10 pm, around 100 protesters remained at Civic Square.
At 11 pm, the government issued a press statement, saying 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. In response, several members of Demosistō staged a sit-in outside the Legislative Council Complex demanding a dialogue with Lam and Lee, while pro-independence groups Student Localism and the Students Independent Union, called for escalating protest actions if the government failed to withdraw the bill.
Around midnight, tensions escalated and clashes broke out between protesters and officers at the Legislative Council Complex. Protesters threw bottles and metal barricades at police and pushed barricades while officers responded with pepper spray. Riot police pushed back against the crowd and secured the area, while police on Harcourt Road also pushed protesters back onto the pavements. Clashes shifted to Lung Wo Road as many protesters gathered and barricaded themselves from the officers. Several hundred protesters were herded by officers towards Lung King Street in Wan Chai around 2 am and then into Gloucester Road.
The South China Morning Post described the night protest as similar to "bigger clashes during the 2014 Occupy protests". The number of protesters gradually dwindled since around 3 am. By the end of the clearance, 19 protesters had been arrested while 358, who had been corralled along the wall of the Old Wan Chai Police Station by a large number of officers, had their profiles recorded; 80 percent of them were younger than 25.
The next morning, Lam refused to withdraw the bill but acknowledged that the sizeable rally showed there were "clearly still concerns" over the bill. Pressed about whether she would resign, she asserted it was important to have a stable governing team "when our economy is going to undergo some very severe challenges because of external uncertainties."
12 June – strike and siege of LegCoEdit
A general strike had been called for 12 June, the day of the planned resumption of the second reading of the extradition bill. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) appealed to workers to join the protest; hundreds of businesses closed for the day and numerous workers went on strike. Affiliate Hong Kong Cabin Crew Federation also called a strike. HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of East Asia closed some central branches; some of the banks and the Big Four accounting firms had agreed to flexible work arrangements for staff; Hong Kong Jockey Club shut down three of its central betting branches, citing employee safety. The Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union (HKPTU) called on its members to attend a protest rally after school hours on that day. Student unions of most of the major higher education institutions had also called for student strike on 12 June; 50 social welfare and religious groups also took part in the strike. The Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong urged the Hong Kong government and the public to show restraint, and the administration "not to rush to amend the extradition bill before fully responding to the concerns of the legal sector and the public."
A Facebook post calling on people to "enjoy a picnic" at the Tamar Park on 11 June attracted 2,000 people. In anticipation of the protest the next day, the police force tightened the security. In the Admiralty station they stopped commuters, mostly teenagers and searched their bags, resulting in some friction between the public and the police.
Another call to "picnic" at the Tamar Park on 12 June attracted close to 10,000 responses. The Legislative Council Commission issued an amber security alert. The protest zone outside the building was closed and access to the complex was limited. Sit-ins began in the morning and large crowd built up at the MTR exit. Around 8 am, the crowd rushed onto Harcourt Road, blocking traffic. Lung Wo Road and surrounding streets were also blocked by the protesters in a scene reminiscent of 2014 Occupy protests. A banner with "Majority calls on Carrie Lam to step down" and "Withdraw the extradition bill, defend One Country Two Systems" written on it was hung from the Admiralty Centre footbridge. Around 11 am, the Legislative Council Secretariat announced that the second reading debate on the extradition bill had been postponed indefinitely.
Police vans carrying riot police began to line up adjacent to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on standby, around 1 pm. A source in the pro-Beijing camp said that some Communist Party legislators were at Central Police District Headquarters, while online groups called on protesters to block vehicles that might be used to transport the legislators to the Legislative Council.
Around 3:20 pm, protesters on Tim Wa Avenue began to charge the police barricades and were doused with pepper spray in reply. Some protesters at the junction of Lung Wo Road and Tim Wa Avenue broke through the barricades and took over Tim Wa Avenue after riot police walked into the government headquarters, leaving a Special Tactical Unit to defend. Protesters also attempted to charge the Legislative Council building. Riot police dispersed the protesters by firing tear gas, beanbag rounds and rubber bullets.
There was a stand-off on Harcourt Road between protesters and the police. Many protesters took shelter in the buildings nearby as more tear gas was fired. As of 6 pm, 22 injured people had been sent to public hospitals. At around 6:20 pm, the Legislative Council Secretariat issued a circular saying Legislative Council President Andrew Leung had called off the meeting. Protesters remained in the streets outside the AIA Tower in Central, Queensway outside Pacific Place shopping mall, and at the junction of Arsenal Street and Hennessy Road in Wan Chai into the night. In Central, private cars were employed to block Connaught Road Central while protesters chanted slogans from the Exchange Square bridge. The number of protesters dwindled after midnight as roads gradually reopened. By the end of the day, at least 79 protesters and police officers had been treated in hospitals; around 150 tear gas canisters, "several" rounds of rubber bullets, and 20 beanbag shots had been fired during the protest clearance.
Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo declared the clashes a "riot" and condemned the protesters' behaviour. Speaking in Cantonese, Lo used the term for "disturbance", but a police spokesman later clarified he meant "riot". Chief Executive Carrie Lam backed Lo, saying the protesters' "dangerous and life-threatening acts" had devolved into a "blatant, organised riot".
Overnight, 2,000 protesters from religious groups held a vigil outside the government headquarters, singing hymns and praying. Various trade unions, businesses and schools also vowed to stage protests. The Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union called for a city-wide strike lasting a week. At least 4,000 Hong Kong teachers followed the call.
Siege of CITIC TowerEdit
According to the CHRF, the police had earlier agreed to peaceful demonstration within the area outside CITIC Tower in its letter of no objection. However, teargas was fired by police, to some criticism. Videos depicted the police firing tear gas on both sides of Lung Wui Road at around 4 pm as in a pincer movement near Citic Tower went viral on Hong Kong social media. People who were trying to push into the building to flee the gas found the doors locked and themselves cornered by police.
As people trickled through the jammed central revolving door and a small side door, the police fired another two tear gas canisters into the trapped crowd fuelling panic. Protesters attempted to break down another locked side door in a desperate attempt to gain entry. Pro-democrat legislators criticised the police action which nearly caused a stampede. Amnesty International also criticised the use of tear gas against the trapped crowd.
Police brutality allegationsEdit
Many videos of aggressive police action appeared online: one showed tear gas canisters being fired at peaceful and unarmed protesters, first-aid volunteers, and even reporters. One video showed a protester apparently being hit in the face by a police projectile; another showed police firing multiple rounds of tear gas at hundreds of trapped protesters outside CITIC Tower. A The New York Times video essay showed tear gas was deployed as an "offensive weapon" and that in several cases, unarmed protesters were beaten and dragged by police commanders. On 21 June, Amnesty International published a report examining policing tactics by its team of experts who examined footage of 14 incidents. Video showed apparent unlawful use of batons and rubber bullets, improper use of riot control agents, lack of visible police identification and restrictions on journalists and medics. Amnesty concluded that the use of force by police against the largely peaceful protest was unnecessary and excessive and that police had "violated international human rights law and standards."
Protesters complained about the lack of identifying numbers on the uniforms of the Special Tactical Squad (STS), who were accused of police brutality. During the 2014 Occupy protests, the 2016 Mong Kok civil unrest, and the 9 June clashes, police uniforms had always displayed numbers. The numbers appeared to have disappeared since 12 June, when police officers began wearing newly designed uniforms without numbers. Although Secretary Lee claimed there was no space on the new uniforms to display their numbers, it is an operational requirement. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the police complained that personal information of more than 400 officers and about 100 of their family members had been posted online. Activists have also targeted senior officers in the force who are British, questioning the legacy of colonial violence.
Top bodies of the United Nations condemned the actions of police. A spokesman for U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said she was concerned by the "escalation of violence" in Hong Kong, and Rupert Colville said the UN Human Rights Office had also reviewed credible evidence that police are using "less-lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by international norms". Carrie Lam and Stephen Lo repeatedly sidestepped questions over police violence and rejected protesters' demands for an independent inquiry into the policing of the 12 June protest, only replying that the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) and the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) – both of which are internal institutions – would look into the complaints.
Assaults on journalistsEdit
The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) accused the police of "trampl[ing] on reporters" and ignoring their safety. They complained that the police had unreasonably interfered with newsgathering by shining flashlights directly at them to disperse them. A driver for public broadcaster RTHK was hit by a tear gas round and was sent to hospital after he suffered a cardiac arrest. The HKJA also said members complained that some police officers had been verbally insulting and abusive, including the use of profanity at a member of the press. Another online video showed riot police firing tear gas rounds directly at a journalist. The HKJA filed a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) claiming police had caused bodily harm to 26 journalists during the protests. The police press conference on 13 June was attended by reporters wearing high-visibility vests, helmets and gas masks in protest.
At least four protesters were arrested at hospitals while receiving treatment following clashes earlier that day. The police chief admitted that officers had accessed medical records, raising concerns over confidentiality of patient information. On 17 June, Legislative Councillor for the Medical constituency Pierre Chan presented a partial list that disclosed the information of 76 patients who had been treated in the emergency ward of a public hospital on 12 and 13 June, along with a note that stated "for police" which was written on the top-left corner of the document. Chan said such a list could be obtained through the clinical data system in some hospitals without requiring a password and accused the Hong Kong Hospital Authority (HKHA) for leaking patients' data to the police. The HKHA denied the accusation, stressing that it had never authorised anyone to print the patients' data for police officers.
The Hong Kong Adventist Hospital in Tsuen Wan also reportedly refused to treat an injured protester and advised the person to go to Yan Chai Hospital before reporting him to the police. The private hospital told media that its protocol prohibits it from handling cases related to "criminal activities", adding that patients involved in such cases are referred to a public hospital.
Tensions grew between the medical profession and the police force with both parties accused of verbal harassment and abuse. The police force later withdrew from posts at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Yan Chai Hospital.
14 June mothers' sit-inEdit
Following an interview of Carrie Lam on TVB in the morning of 12 June in which she lamented that as a mother, she would not have tolerated her children's violent protests, 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" and admonished her for attacking their children with tear gas, rubber bullets or bag bombs." Some 6,000 people participated in a three-hour sit-in at Chater Garden in Central on the evening of 14 June. The protesters dressed in black and holding carnations, called on Carrie Lam to step down and for the government to retract the bill. They also held up placards condemning police brutality, such as "don't shoot our kids." The organisers also said they had collected more than 44,000 signatures in a petition condemning the views Lam expressed in the interview.
16 June marchEdit
On 15 June, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced a pause in the passage of the extradition bill after the Legislative Council meetings had been postponed for four working days in a row. The pro-democracy camp feared it was merely a tactical retreat and demanded a full withdrawal of the bill and said they would go ahead with the 16 June rally as planned. Jimmy Sham, convenor of the CHRF, said the suspension could be a trap. They also called for Lam's resignation, apology for "disproportionally violent" police tactics towards peaceful protesters, the release of arrested protesters, and to withdraw the official characterisation of the protest on 12 June as "riot".
The march started ahead of time, at 2:30 pm on 16 June, from Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, to the Legislative Council in Admiralty – an approximately 3-kilometre-long (1.9 mi) route. Slogan-chanting protesters were predominantly dressed in black, some wearing white ribbons on their chests in anger at police brutality during the 12 June crackdown. Many protesters started their march from North Point as the police ordered the MTR not to stop at Tin Hau and Causeway Bay during the march. Nearby train stations were swamped with hundreds of thousands pouring into the protest zone; those from the Kowloon side trying to join the protest had to wait up to an hour at a time to board cross-harbour Star Ferry from Tsim Sha Tsui. The size of the crowd forced police to open all the six lanes of Hennessy Road; the masses then also spilled over onto Lockhart Road and Jaffe Road – all three being parallel streets and major thoroughfares in Wan Chai.
The procession from Causeway Bay to Admiralty lasted from 3 pm to 11 pm. Marchers left bouquets and slogans on the site in front of Pacific Place where a man had committed suicide on 15 June. At night, protesters blocked Harcourt Road, causing traffic to grind to a halt. Protesters, however, allowed trapped vehicles – mainly franchised buses and emergency vehicles – to pass.
Early in the afternoon, Stand News, an independent online news agency, had used big data analysis to predict that there is a 72% chance that 1.44 million would have participated in the protest. 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. The police said that there were 338,000 marchers on the original route at its peak.
At 8:30 pm, the government issued a statement in which Carrie Lam apologised to Hong Kong residents and promised to "sincerely and humbly accept all criticism and to improve and serve the public."
21 and 24 June police HQ siegesEdit
A loose association of university-based protest groups, officially known as the Student's Unions of Higher Institutions, reiterated its four main as-yet unaddressed demands after not receiving any official response from the government. Further protests were called on 21 June.
At around 11 am, protesters gathered outside government headquarters and quickly blocked the traffic on Harcourt Road. Some of the protesters also marched to Hong Kong Police Headquarters in Wan Chai as Demosistō activist Joshua Wong, who was released from prison only a few days earlier after serving a sentence for his actions in the 2014 protests, urged the crowd to surround the complex. Dozens of protesters also staged a sit-in at the Revenue Tower and Immigration Tower nearby. Another round of blockade occurred three days later, on 24 June. On 26 June, protesters returned to the Revenue Tower to apologise to civil servants for the earlier disruption.
By the evening of 21 June, a siege had developed at the Police Headquarters as thousands of protesters amassed in Arsenal Street. South China Morning Post reported that protesters had "blocked the police headquarters' exits, threw eggs at the compound, drew graffiti on the walls, covered closed-circuit television cameras with tape, splashed oil on officers and targeted laser beams at police officers' eyes". The police took no action to disperse the protesters. The police sought medical attention for some staff members and had made a total of five ambulance calls by 9:33 pm. After the ambulance's arrival, the medics waited for tens of minutes in front of the gate of the police headquarter for the police to unlock it. The siege ended peacefully at 2:40 am as most of the protesters had left. Staff members and officers trapped inside the building evacuated via a back entrance to board waiting for coaches. The police blamed the protesters for the delayed treatment, though Hong Kong Fire Services Department stated that the protesters did not obstruct any rescue effort by the paramedics.
Protesters in Revenue Tower.
Protesters occupying the Legislative Council Complex.
Protesters outside the Hong Kong Police Headquarters in Wan Chai.
26 and 28 June G20 summit ralliesEdit
Protests occurred outside 19 foreign consulates in Hong Kong. Around 1,500 protesters during the day visited the consulates of countries expected to attend the G20 Osaka summit, handing out petitions to raise awareness of the movement in hopes of putting pressure on China. Meanwhile, there were solidarity protests in Osaka, Japan during the G20 Summit. China said it would not tolerate any discussion at the forum because "Hong Kong matters are purely an internal affair to China [in which] no foreign country has a right to interfere."
In the evening, thousands gathered for a rally outside the City Hall, shouting slogans of freedom and democracy. The protests stretched to the International Finance Centre, and spilled over into Lung Wo Road, blocking westbound traffic during the evening rush hour. Thousands of protesters then assembled at Edinburgh Place at night, holding signs that read "Democracy now" and "Free Hong Kong." At the same time, around 1,000 protesters surrounded the Wan Chai police headquarters for six hours.
Protesters outside The Consulate General of the United States of America in Hong Kong and for Macau.
Protesters with messages saying "Defend Sovereignty of Hong Kong, Please liberate Hong Kong". One man was holding the flag of Jerusalem Municipality in the background.
28 June Central Harbourfront protestEdit
On 28 June, some of the G20 demonstrations also protested against the Hong Kong government's prospective surrender of a strip of land in Central Harbourfront to the People's Liberation Army on 29 June. In light of the protests on 27 June, Au Nok-hin's resolutions and Eddie Chu's proposal to delay the surrendering date were halted as pro-Beijing legislator Christopher Cheung requested an adjournment for debate to shift attention on restoring peace in Hong Kong. Chu and protesters entered the pier at around 11:30 pm. Protesters left the pier at midnight when its jurisdiction was legally turned over to PLA, though a standoff between the protesters and the police continued till 1 am.
On 9 June, 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-Beijing activist group, also showed up at the government quarters to support the bill a few hours before the anti-extradition bill protest.
On 16 June, around 40 protesters from the pro-Beijing Safeguard Hong Kong Alliance and the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU) protested outside the U.S. Consulate General in Central, condemning the US for allegedly interfering in the extradition law. Hundreds of Pro-Beijing supporters gathered in Chater Garden in Central under the banner "Support Hong Kong Police Force, Blessing to Hong Kong" on 22 June; pro-Beijing figures such as legislator Priscilla Leung and pro-police campaigner Leticia Lee fronted the rally.
On 30 June, a more significant demonstration was organised by pro-Beijing legislator Junius Ho Kwan-yiu to show solidarity for the police and support for the extradition bill, taking place in front of the government headquarters in Tamar. Former police chief Tang King-shing and former deputy police commissioner Peter Yam Tat-wing (brother of actor Simon Yam) took to the podium, as did artists such as Alan Tam and Tony Leung. The organisers claimed that 165,000 people attended, while police cited 53,000. There were multiple confrontations as the pro-police supporters ran into small groups of anti-bill protesters wearing black, getting into arguments and scuffles with them as well with journalists covering the event. The Lennon Wall in Admiralty was destroyed by the pro-police supporters and pan-democratic Legislative Councilor Lam Cheuk-ting was physically assaulted.
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