ens of thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against a proposed law change which would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.
As is typically the case, the number of protesters varies greatly depending upon the source of information, with police estimating 22,000 people and organizers claiming that around 130,000 participated. Either way, it marks the largest demonstration that Hong Kong has seen the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement ground the city to a standstill in 2014.
Significantly, the protest comes less than a week after some of the leaders of that movement were jailed on “public nuisance” charges. Some of the protesters carried yellow umbrellas.
The protesters are angry over a proposed policy change which the city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, is attempting to rush through that would alter Hong Kong’s extradition laws to allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China, Macau, or Taiwan on a case-by-case basis. Lam’s government wants to amend the law before July in order to extradite a murder suspect to Taiwan.
However, Hongkongers are concerned that this is yet another case of their freedoms under the “one country, two systems” framework being eroded away as Beijing continues to exert a tighter and tighter grip on the former British colony. The law change would allow locals or foreigners passing through Hong Kong to be seized and sent to mainland China for trial where the justice system is infamously opaque and the death penalty liberally used.
130,000 people joined the march today in Hong Kong in order to against the China extradition law and support jailed activist. It’s the biggest turnout since the Umbrella Movement in 2014. https://t.co/zEnQFxCQyc pic.twitter.com/ZBOQa4srGj
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 (@joshuawongcf) April 28, 2019
— 三爪 (@sanzaosandra) April 28, 2019
It’s like this for a long, long way through Causeway Bay and Wanchai pic.twitter.com/1c4JI6P2rY
— Jerome Taylor (@JeromeTaylor) April 28, 2019
Officials have insisted that no one who is at risk of being sentenced to death, being tortured, or facing a political charge would be transferred to the mainland. However, many are not convinced. One of the most prominent opponents of the proposal is Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, who declared:
“Societies which believe in the rule of law do not reach agreements like this with those who do not. These changes are an assault on Hong Kong’s values, stability and security. They create fear and uncertainty for business at a time when we should all be working to safeguard Hong Kong’s reputation as one of the world’s greatest business and financial centers.”
[Images via hk01.com]