Massive extradition bill protest fills Hong Kong streets

HONG KONG — Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through Hong Kong on Sunday to voice their opposition to government-sponsored legislation that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China to face charges.

The massive demonstration took place three days before the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s government plans to bring the highly contentious bill to the full legislature, bypassing the committee process, in a bid to win approval by the end of the month.

Police estimated the crowd at 240,000, but organizers said more than 1 million took part.

The protest appeared to be even bigger than a massive pro-democracy demonstration in 2003 against a proposed national security law, according to Associated Press journalists who covered both events.

Marchers of all ages took part, some pushing strollers and others carrying canes, chanting slogans in the native Cantonese dialect in favour of greater transparency in government.

Kiwi Wong, 27, was among the throng, a member of the younger generation who’ve grown up enjoying relative prosperity but also growing insecurity about what many see as an erosion of the rights Hong Kong residents have enjoyed.

“If I didn’t come out now, I don’t know when I would have the chance to express my opinion again,” Wong said. “Because now we’ve got to this stage, if you don’t come out to try to do what you can, then it will end up too late, you won’t be able to say or do anything about it.”

Alex Ng, a 67-year-old retiree, said he joined the protest because “I think that there was never any public consultation about this law, and there are a lot of uncertainties.”

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has pushed forward with the legislation despite widespread criticism from human rights and business groups. The amendments have been widely criticized as eroding Hong Kong’s judicial independence by making it easier to send criminal suspects to mainland China, where they could face vague national security charges and unfair trials.

“What can we do to get Carrie Lam to listen to us, how many people have to come out to make her reconsider listening to the public?” said Miu Wong, a 24-year-old office worker who was among the protesters.

Tommy Lam, a 29-year-old who is working on his master’s degree, said: “All these people coming out and marching sends a definite message. If the government doesn’t listen, there will be tension.”

Hong Kong was guaranteed the right to retain its own social, legal and political systems for 50 years following its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997, the so-called “one country, two systems” framework. However, China’s ruling Communist Party has been seen as increasingly reneging on that agreement by forcing through unpopular legal changes.

Hong Kong currently limits extraditions to jurisdictions with which it has existing extradition agreements or to others on an individual basis under a law passed before 1997.

China was excluded because of concerns over its poor record on legal independence and human rights. In recent years, mainland authorities have gone after opponents by accusing them of dubious crimes such as tax evasion, crystalizing worries among critics and others.

Lam’s government argued that the revisions were needed to close legal loopholes, while opponents say that is merely an excuse to pursue China’s agenda of reducing Hong Kong’s legal independence.

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council plans to vote on the bill on Wednesday.

“The people of Hong Kong want to protect our freedom, our freedom of speech, our rule of law, our judicial system, and also our economic foundation, which is welcome to international investors,” activist Lee Cheuk-yan, a former Hong Kong legislator, said Sunday. “If international investors lose confidence in Hong Kong because of this evil bill, then Hong Kong, economically, would also be destroyed.”

 

Just Posted

Sexual predator preyed on his own young daughter and niece

Eckville man sexually assaulted numerous children as young as two for nearly a decade

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

OTTAWA — Signs began to emerge Friday that the coming race to… Continue reading

Man who tried to kill Edmonton police officer, pedestrians sentenced to 28 years

EDMONTON — A man convicted of attacking an Edmonton police officer and… Continue reading

Iraq’s top Shiite cleric condemns gruesome hanging of teen

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s top Shiite cleric on Friday denounced the killing of… Continue reading

Boy, 13, arrested in killing of Barnard College freshman

NEW YORK — A 13-year-old boy was arrested Friday in the stabbing… Continue reading

Drug bust: Red Deer RCMP seize drugs, cash, vehicles

Criminals are getting creative. Red Deer RCMP have seized cash and vehicles… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Friday The Annual Old-Fashioned Country Christmas is being held Dec. 13 at… Continue reading

Rode: Calleja Misson has a passion for hockey

The first time Calleja Misson saw hockey on television she knew she… Continue reading

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

OTTAWA — Signs began to emerge Friday that the coming race to… Continue reading

POLL: Did you get a flu shot this season?

Did you get a flu shot this season?… Continue reading

Man who tried to kill Edmonton police officer, pedestrians sentenced to 28 years

EDMONTON — A man convicted of attacking an Edmonton police officer and… Continue reading

We have to accept responsibility when life goes wrong

Several times, I have read articles about a drunk driver causing an… Continue reading

Christmas in Disneyland is a bucket-list blast for our anniversary

So, another anniversary arrived unexpectedly. The wedding kind. As in “anni” –… Continue reading

Iraq’s top Shiite cleric condemns gruesome hanging of teen

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s top Shiite cleric on Friday denounced the killing of… Continue reading

Most Read