HONG KONG: Thousands of people dressed in black rallied in Hong Kong on Friday after the expiry of a deadline protesters set for the government to scrap a controversial extradition bill — the latest wave of protests to rock the Chinese-ruled city. Demonstrators, mostly students, gathered peacefully outside the legislature in the sweltering heat of about 30 degrees Celsius (86°Fahrenheit) to vent their anger and frustration at Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam who promoted and then postponed the bill after mass protests last week. Some protesters on Friday tried to block key roads near the heart of the financial centre in scenes reminiscent of democracy protests in late 2014, sparking early morning traffic chaos. Lam’s suspension of the bill, that would allow people to be extradited to the mainland to face trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party, has done little to pacify opponents, who are demanding it is axed. “We want to fight for our freedom,” said high school student Chan Pak-lam, 17, outside Hong Kong’s political headquarters, which was temporarily shut on Friday due to security concerns. “We want the law to be withdrawn, not suspended. I will stay here until tonight, at 10 p.m. maybe. If the government doesn’t respond, we will come again.” Millions have clogged the streets of the financial hub this month to protest against the extradition bill, which they fear will erode Hong Kong’s legal system, triggering some of the most violent protests in decades when police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowds. The protesters on Friday demanded the government drop all charges against those arrested during last week’s violent protests, charge police with what they describe as violent action and stop referring to the protests as a riot. Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng became the latest government minister to apologize over the bill, which has plunged the former British colony into political turmoil. “Regarding the controversies and disputes in society arising from the strife in the past few months, being a team member of the government, I offer my sincere apology to all people of Hong Kong,” Cheng wrote in her blog on Friday. “We promise to adopt a most sincere and humble attitude to accept criticisms and make improvements in serving the public.”
Black-clad protesters demand full withdrawal of Hong Kong extradition bill
The Himalayan Times
Published: 10:17 am Jun 21, 2019
Embattled Lam has stopped short of axing the bill, unnerving many who fear the law could put them at the mercy of the mainland Chinese justice system which is plagued by torture, forced confessions and arbitrary detentions. Courts in mainland China are controlled by the Communist Party.