By Tenzin Dharpo
Protestors and police barricades near the legislative council compound in Hong kong on June 12, 2019. Photo- AP
DHARAMSHALA June 12: The mass protest against a proposed extradition law in Hong Kong has now continued into its second week as hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers take to the streets objecting the law that allows for people to stand trial in Mainland China and in essence, allow for Beijing to extend its legal arm into Hong Kong.
The protests on Wednesday took a violent turn as police began using tear gas, water canon, pepper spray and rubber bullets to disperse crowds which stormed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council building, injuring as many as 20 in the melee, according to some local news. Many of the protestors wearing black called for the government to drop the talks for the proposed bill.
Pro-democracy law makers that object the bill and pro-Beijing group that has a majority of 43 of the total 70 seats in the house calling for the bill to be passed failed to meet at the council today, after roads leading to the compound was filled with protestors.
The extradition bill that applies to 37 crimes excludes political crimes. Although mainland authorities are not permitted to operate in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous territory, critics fear the legislation would legalize abductions to the mainland that have earlier taken place in Hong Kong in the last few years, such as Lam Wing-kee, the owner of Causeway Bay Books who disappeared along with his other colleagues in 2015.
The bill proposed by the Hong Kong government in February proposed to establish systems for transfers of fugitives not only for Taiwan, but also for Mainland China and Macau. The bill would allow Hong Kong to detain and transfer people wanted in countries and territories with which it has no formal extradition agreements, including Taiwan and the Mainland China. Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam has refused to withdraw the bill.
President of Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen tweeted, "We stand with all freedom-loving people of #HongKong. In their faces, we see the longing for freedom, & are reminded that #Taiwan's hard-earned democracy must be guarded & renewed by every generation. As long as I’m President, "one country, two systems" will never be an option."
European Union Parliamentary leader Guy Verhofstadt stated that scenes were inspirational making a stand for human rights & the rule of law, and that Europe is watching.
The first protest against the bill was organised by Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) on 31 March. On June 9 last week, organisers said that the number of protestors reached a record 1.03 million common Hongkongers calling on the government to drop the bill.