2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests
June9protestTreefong01.jpgJune16protestTreefong15.jpg
Hundreds of thousands of protesters marching in white on 9 June (top) and in black 16 June (bottom).
Date31 March 2019 – ongoing
(2 months, 3 weeks and 3 days)
Location
Worldwide, mostly Hong Kong
Caused by
Goals
  • Withdrawal of the extradition bill
  • Resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam
  • Release and drop charges against protesters, and retract the characterisation of the protest as "rioting" (since 12 June)
MethodsOccupations, sit-ins, civil disobedience, mobile street protests, internet activism, mass strike
StatusOngoing
Concessions
given
  • Carrie Lam announces suspension of the bill and apologises to the public
  • Police partially retracts the characterisation of the protest as "riot"[2]
Parties to the civil conflict
Protesters

(no centralised leadership)

Casualties
Death(s)1[4] (suicide, 15 June)
Injuries72+[3] (as of 12 June 2019)
Arrested30+[5][6] (as of 14 June 2019)

The 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests are a series of ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong and other cities around the world against the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 proposed by the Hong Kong government.

Concerns are raised over the removal of the firewall of the legal systems between Hong Kong and Mainland China where Hong Kong citizens and foreign nationals passing through the city could fall victim to the Chinese legal system where the courts are under political control.[7][8][9][10] The movement gained momentum when the April 28 demonstration attracted an estimated 130,000 protesters.[11][12][13]

After the chaos in the Legislative Council meetings and the curtailment of the usual procedure of scrutinising the bill, as well as the concerns raised by foreign business groups, politicians and governments in May, the June 9 protest calling for the withdrawal of the bill and resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam was attended by over a million people, a record breaking turnout as the organisers claimed.[14] Similar protests were also launched in cities such as New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver, London, Berlin, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Sydney and Taipei.

On 12 June, the day the government attempted to table the bill for second reading, the protest outside of the government headquarters descended into violent clashes, where the police fired tear gas, beanbag rounds and rubber bullets indiscriminately at largely peaceful protesters and declared it as a "riot". The government's action sparked controversy over the police use of excessive force. On 16 June, according to claims by the organizers of the protest,[15] a historic record of nearly two million people turned out in demonstration against the extradition bill as well as the police brutality, a day after Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced a pause in the passage of the extradition bill.[16]

Background

The Bill was first proposed by the Hong Kong government in February 2019 in response to a 2018 homicide case of a Hong Kong couple in Taiwan. The government said that the amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Cap. 503) and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Ordinance (Cap. 525) would establish a mechanism for case-by-case transfers of fugitives by the Chief Executive to not only Taiwan, but also Mainland China, with which the city lacks a formal extradition treaty.[10]

Concerns were raised from all sectors of the community, including legal professionals, journalists, human rights groups and business chambers. Critics expressed fears that the city would open itself up to mainland Chinese law and that people from Hong Kong would fall under the jurisdiction of a different legal system. Opponents urged the government to establish an extradition arrangement with Taiwan only, and to sunset the arrangement immediately after the surrender of suspect.[10][17]

March 31 demonstration

Thousands of protesters marched on the street against the proposed extradition law on 31 March 2019.

The Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), a platform for 50 pro-democracy groups, launched its first major protest on 31 March. from Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to the government headquarters in Admiralty. Pro-democracy camp's convenor in the legislature Claudia Mo and Lam Wing-kee, the owner of Causeway Bay Books who was kidnapped by Chinese agents in 2015, stood at the forefront of the rally. High-profile figures from the pro-democracy camp, including Cardinal Joseph Zen, barristers Martin Lee and Margaret Ng and Apple Daily owner Jimmy Lai also attended the rally. The organisers stated that there would be further protests if the government still insisted with the bill. It also claimed 12,000 people took part in the march, while the police put the peak figure at 5,200.[18]

April 28 march

Thousands of protesters marched on the street against the proposed extradition law on 28 April 2019.

On 28 April, the Civil Human Rights Front launched the second major protest against the extradition bill. One day before the protest, bookseller Lam Wing-kee left Hong Kong for Taiwan on 27 April, fearing the proposed extradition law would mean he could be sent to mainland China.[19]

130,000 protesters joined the march against the proposed extradition law according to organisers, while police estimated that only 22,800 joined. The turnout was the largest since an estimated 510,000 joined the annual July 1 protest in 2014. The rally started from East Point Road, Causeway Bay to the Legislative Council in Admiralty, which is a 2.2 km route and took more than four hours.[20] CHRF vice-convenor Figo Chan Ho-hang, vowed to escalate its opposition if the government did not withdraw the bill.[20]

A day after the protest, Chief Executive Carrie Lam was adamant that the bill would be enacted and said the Legislative councillors had to pass new extradition laws before their summer break, even though the man at the heart of the case used to justify the urgency of new legislation, Chan Tong-kai, had been jailed for 29 months shortly before.[21] Chan received a prison sentence of 29 months on 29 April. However, since he had already been detained for 13 months since his arrest in Hong Kong, his sentence would end in August 2020. Secretary for Security John Lee said that Chan could be released by October at the earliest since good behaviour in prison can result in a one-third reduction of a prisoner's sentence, and he would then be free to leave the city.[22]

June 6 lawyers' silent march

Thousands of lawyers marched in black against the extradition bill on 6 June 2019.

The legal professionals who had raised concerns over the extradition bill also staged a silent march on 6 June. Wearing in black, the lawyers, legal academics and law students marched from the Court of Final Appeal to the Central Government Offices. Led by Dennis Kwok, Legislative Councillor for the Legal constituency, and also two former Hong Kong Bar Association chairmen, Martin Lee and Denis Chang, the lawyers then stood in front of the government headquarters looking at the building for three minutes silently.[23] Attended by more than 3,000 Hong Kong lawyers, representing around one quarter of the city's lawyers, it was the fifth, and the largest, protest march held by lawyers in Hong Kong since 1997.[24]

While the lawyers expressed grave reservations about the openness and fairness of the justice system in China, limited access to a lawyer, and the prevalence of torture, Secretary for Security John Lee said the legal sector did not really understand the bill.[24]

June 9 march

Daytime rally

The organisers said there were record breaking 1.03 million protesters showing up in the streets on 9 June.

Before the government tabling the extradition bill for second reading in the Legislative Council on 12 June, the Civil Human Rights Front called the Hong Kong people to come out against the bill on 9 June. The march started from Victoria Park, Causeway Bay to the Legislative Council in Admiralty, an approximately 3 km (1.86mi) route.

Chanting "Scrap the evil law," "Oppose China extradition" and "Carrie Lam resign" in white to symbolise "light and brightness" and justice, protesters brought Hong Kong Island to a halt from early afternoon until late at night.[25] The MTR enacted crowd control measures in which the police ordered trains not to stop at Wan Chai, Causeway Bay and Tin Hau stations for several hours.[26] Protesters had to get off at Fortress Hill in order to join the protest from there.[27] Police urged protesters to march from Victoria Park before the 3 pm start-time to ease overcrowding. During the march, there were several times when protesters come to a standstill due to the limited road space. People demanded that the police opened up more roads. It was only after some protesters climbed over a metal barricade and walked on lanes originally reserved for traffic that police opened up all lanes on Hennessy Road, having previously refused to do so.[28] A huge 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 Admiralty seven hours after the protest began.[29]

CHRF convenor Jimmy Sham said that 1.03 million people attended the march, 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 July 1 demonstration of 2003.[30] The police countered with an estimate of 270,000 at its peak.[31][32][33] Evan Fowler of the Hong Kong Free Press noted that the police had "become notorious for using highly selective methods to significantly underreport numbers, but that the demonstration was "beyond doubt...the largest one-day protest in Hong Kong's history".[34]

As a counter-protest, more than a dozen ships carrying banners with slogans supporting the bill cruised Victoria Harbour.[35] 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 few hours before the anti-extradition bill protest.[36]

Night-time clashes

Hundreds of protesters camped out 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 the protesters from dashing onto Harcourt Road the main road next to the government headquarters, while the Special Tactical Squad (STS) stood by for potential conflicts.[37] The Civil Human Rights Front officially called an end to the march at 10 pm, however, around 100 protesters remained at the Civic Square, the East Wing Forecourt of the Central Government Office.[38]

Protesters in Harcourt Road at night with police in standby.

At 11 pm, the government issued a press statement, saying that 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.[39] In response to the government's statement, several members of Demosistō staged a sit-in protest outside the Legislative Council Complex demanding for a dialogue with Carrie Lam and John Lee, while pro-independence groups, Student Localism and the Students Independent Union, called for escalating protest actions if the government fails to respond to their demand to withdraw the bill.[37]

A stand-off with police around midnight descended into chaos as the tension went high. Clashes broken out between thousands of protesters and officers at the Legislative Council Complex as protesters threw bottles and metal barricades at police and pushed barricades while police responded by pepper spray.[31] Anti-riot police arrived to the scene and charged back at the crowd and secure the area, while police on Harcourt Road also pushed protesters back on the pavements. Clashes shift to Lung Wo Road as many protesters gathered and barricaded themselves from the officers. Several hundred protesters were driven by officers to Lung King Street in Wan Chai around 2 am and then moved onto Gloucester Road while chanting "No extradition to China!"[31]

The South China Morning Post commented the night protest as "the scene of bigger clashes during the 2014 Occupy protests for greater democracy."[38] The number of protesters gradually dwindled around 3 am.[38] 19 Protesters were arrested, while 358 protesters in Wan Chai were hemmed in against the wall of the Old Wan Chai Police Station surrounded by a large number of officers and had their identity recorded, 80 per cent of whom were younger than 25.[40]

Following the clashes on early 10 June, Lam in the next morning stated the size of the rally "was admittedly significant", and showed there were "clearly still concerns" over the bill but refused to withdraw it.[41] She refused to draw in to the questions of whether she would fulfil her promise that she would resign "if mainstream opinion makes me no longer able to continue the job" in her 2017 Chief Executive election campaign, only saying that it was important to have a stable governing team "at a time when our economy is going to undergo some very severe challenges because of external uncertainties."[42]

June 12 protest

Early stage

Online groups called on people to sit-in at the Tamar Park as "picnic" in the morning on 12 June.

Fresh round of protest resumed on 12 June, the day of the resumption of the second reading on the extradition bill. Prior to that, a general strike were called on the day in which hundreds of businesses closed for the day, and numerous workers went on strike to protest against the bill. The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) appealed to workers to "use your own method" to request a day off to join the protest.[43] Its 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.[44][45] 50 social welfare and religious groups also took part in the strike. 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 several major higher education institutions including the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, City University of Hong Kong, Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University and Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts also called for student strike on 12 June.[46] 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."[47]

A Facebook post called on people to "enjoy a picnic" at the Tamar Park next to the government headquarters on 12 June attracted close to 10,000 responses from people promising to attend, while the Legislative Council Commission announced the closure of the protest zone outside the building and limit access to the complex under amber security alert beforehand. Sit-ins took place from the morning and larger crowd built up at the MTR exit. Around 8 am, the crowd rushed onto Harcourt Road and blocked the traffic.[48] Lung Wo Road and surrounding streets were also blocked by the protesters in a scene reminiscent of the 2014 Occupy protests. A banner written "Majority calls on Carrie Lam to step down" and "Withdraw the extradition bill, defend One Country Two Systems" was hung from the Admiralty Centre footbridge.[49][50] Around 11am, the Legislative Council Secretariat announced that the second debate on the extradition bill had been delayed until further notice.[49]

Violent clashes

Police vans carrying anti-riot police began to line up in a chain along the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre for standby around 1 pm. A source in the pro-Beijing camp said that some pro-Beijing legislators were at Central Police District Headquarters, while online groups have called on protesters to block white coaches and other vehicles that might be used to transport the legislators to the Legislative Council.[49]

Harcourt Road before (top) and after (bottom) police fired tear gas at the protesters.

Around 3:20 pm, protesters on Tim Wa Avenue began to charge the police barricades and were responded with pepper spray. Some protesters at the junction of Lung Wo Road and Tim Wa Avenue broke through the barricades and took over Tim Wa Avenue after anti-riot police walked into the government headquarters, leaving a Special Tactical Unit alone at the scene. Protesters outside the Legislative Council also attempted to charge the Legislative Council building. Riot police responded by firing tear gas, beanbag rounds and rubber bullets, even to the mostly peaceful and armless protesters in the surrounding area. Protesters were quickly dispersed.[49] Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo declared the clashes a "riot" and condemned the protesters' behaviour. During his announcement, Lo used the Cantonese term for "disturbance", but a police spokesman later clarified he meant "riot".[51][52][53] Chief Executive Carrie Lam sided with Lo's claim, calling the protests "dangerous and life threatening acts" that had devolved into a "blatant, organised riot".[54]

Police charged at protesters, pushing their line about 50 metres eastward on Harcourt Road. Protesters stood their ground on Harcourt Road and remained in a stand-off with the police on the road.[49] Many protesters took shelter in the buildings nearby as more tear gas was fired. The police cleared Harcourt Road and advanced on protesters. As of 6pm, 22 injured people had been sent to public hospitals. Around 6:20 pm, the Legislative Council Secretariat issued a circular saying Legislative Council President Andrew Leung had called off the meeting.[49]

Protesters remained in the streets outside the AIA Tower in Central, Queensway outside Pacific Place shopping mall and the junction of Arsenal Street and Hennessy Road in Wan Chai into the night. In Central, private cars were mobilised to block Connaught Road Central while protesters chanted "scrap the extradition bill" from the Exchange Square bridge. The number of protesters dwindled after midnight as roads gradually reopened. As of the end of the day, at least 79 people, aged 15 to 66, including protesters and police officers, were treated in hospitals for injuries suffered during June 12 protest.[55] Around 150 tear gas canisters, "several" rounds of rubber bullets, and 20 beanbag shots were fired during the protest clearance.[56]

Overnight, 2,000 protesters from religious groups held a vigil outside the government headquarters, with some singing hymns and joining in prayers.[57] Various trade unions, businesses and schools also vowed to stage protests.[58] The Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union called for a city-wide strike for a week. At least 4,000 Hong Kong teachers followed the call.[59]

Siege of CITIC Tower

The view of the CITIC Tower from Lung Wui Road.

The police were criticised for its handling of protestors outside CITIC Tower, a commercial block on Tim Mei Avenue adjacent to the Legislative Council. Videos surfaced after the protest depict the police firing tear gas at both sides of Lung Wui Road at around 4 pm. According to the Civil Human Rights Front, the police agreed to a peaceful demonstration within that area in its letter of no objection. The police action forced protesters in the middle have no way to go but to rush into Citic Tower amid the chaos.[60][61]

Hundreds of protesters were screaming and coughing while rushing into the building, which only had a central revolving door and a left-hand side door open. However, by mistake, the door was rotated in the opposite direction and further driven out the crowd. At that moment, the police fired another two tear gas canister into the trapped crowd.[62] The video also showed some protesters failed to break the other locked door in order to rescue the stuck crowd. Pro-democrat legislators criticised the police action which might have caused a stampede. "Tell me, under which police rule, can you shoot tear gas canisters at people who are retreating?" legislator Joseph Lee asked Secretary for Security John Lee.[63]

Amnesty International also criticised the use of tear gas at the trapped crowd. "Tear gas may only be used to disperse crowds when violence is widespread, and only where people are able to leave the area," Amnesty's report states. "It may not be used in confined spaces or where exits are blocked or restricted." It also stresses that tear gas canisters should never be fired directly at a person and clearly audible warnings must be issued prior to their use. People must be allowed sufficient time to leave the scene.[64]

Police brutality

Pro-democrat legislators condemned Carrie Lam and police for "clamping down on a largely peaceful protest with excessive force." Andrew Wan of the Democratic Party condemned the government's action, "the government and police have gone crazy. How much more blood does Carrie Lam want before she can finally agree to call off the bill?".[49] Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said the response by the authorities was not proportional.[65] Wu himself was seen in an online video repeatedly shouting "I am Legislative Councillor! Who is your commander?" at the police frontlines, as a tear gas canister goes off near to him who had almost no protective gear.[65]

Police firing rubber bullets at protestors while breaking up Admiralty's protest (leftmost gun; the other three are tear gas guns).

Many videos went viral online show tear gas canisters being fired at peaceful and armless protesters and even reporters. Another clip shows a protester apparently being shot in the head with a police projectile.[65] Amnesty International criticised police for what the rights group calls excessive force against demonstrators. Director Tam Man-kei condemned "the ugly scenes of police using tear gas and pepper spray against overwhelmingly peaceful protesters is a violation of international law." She added that tear gas and rubber bullets are notoriously inaccurate and indiscriminate, and can result in serious injury and even death. "This excessive response from police is fuelling tensions and is likely to contribute to worsening the violence, rather than end it," Tam said.[49]

On 21 June, Amnesty International published a report of its team of experts on policing and digital verification examining in detail footage from 14 instances of apparent police violence, that included brutal beatings of protesters, multiple rounds of tear gas fired at hundreds of trapped protesters outside CITIC Tower, hitting the head of a protester with a suspected rubber bullet, firing 14 shots of suspected pepper liquid against a man who posed no threat, dispersing journalists who had made their identities clear to the police with batons, blocking emergency ambulance to pass through and so on.[66] The Amnesty stated that the use of force by police in the largely peaceful protest was unnecessary and excessive, "[t]he use of force during the protest violated international human rights law and standards."[67]

Some Special Tactical Squad (STS) members who were accused of police brutality were also found no identifying numbers displayed on their uniforms. Secretary for Security John Lee said there was no space on the uniforms of STS officers to display their numbers. However, photos from media outlets showed STS officers always displayed their numbers on their uniforms during the 2014 Occupy protests, the 2016 Mong Kok civil unrest and as recently as the June 9 clashes.[68]

Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo have been dodging the questions over the police excessive use of force or the protesters' demand of establishing an independent inquiry into the policing of the June 12 protest, only insisting the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO), an internal police force body, and the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC), of which the members were appointed by the government would look into any complaints filed.

Assaults on journalists

Reporters wore safety hats and gas masks in protest of police brutality against front line press at a police press conference on 13 June.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) said that the police "trampled on reporters", and that the police has ignored the safety of the reporters. They complained that the police have unreasonably interfered their work with flashlights and by dispersing them. A driver for public broadcaster RTHK was hit by a tear gas round and was sent to hospital after his heart stopped beating for a time.[69] The HKJA added that some police officers has insulted them with foul language, called them "trash", and shouted to them "reporters have no special privilege".[70] A police officer, among several who had been accused of targeting journalists, was captured on camera yelling "report your mother" at a member of the press, a variation of a Cantonese profanity.[71] Another online video showed a foreign journalist shouted at riot police, "You shoot the press" as they were firing tear gas towards reporters. Riot police persisted and continued to fire another round of tear gas oblivious to the foreign journalist.[72] On a police press conference on 13 June, many reporters wore reflective jackets, helmets and gas masks in protest of police brutality against front line press.[73] The HKJA filed a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) claiming police caused bodily harm to 26 journalists during the protests.[74]

Hospital arrests

At least four protesters were arrested at hospitals while receiving treatment following clashes with police on that day raised concerns over the confidentiality of the patients. Legislative Councillor for the Medical constituency Pierre Chan on 17 June presented a photocopy of part of a list he said he received from a health care worker that disclosed the information of 76 patients who were treated in the emergency ward of a public hospital on 12 and 13 June with a note on the top-left corner of the document read "For police". Chan claimed such a list could be obtained through the clinical data system in some hospitals without requiring a login and accused the Hong Kong Hospital Authority (HKHA) for leaking patients' data for the police. The HKHA denied the accusation, stressing that it had never authorised anyone to print the patients' data for police officers.[75]

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 which sparked public outrage. In its defense, 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.[76]

June 14 mothers' sit-in

On the morning of 12 June, Carrie Lam fielded an interview on TVB, in which she lamented that as a mother, she would not have tolerated her children's behaviour if they were to protest violently, as the young protesters did on 12 June. That night, 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, Chief Executive" and that mothers would never "attack their children with tear gas, shoot them with rubber bullets or attack them with bag bombs."[77][78]

On 14 June, an estimated 6,000 people, according to the organisers, mostly mothers, staged a sit-in in the evening for three hours in Chater Garden in Central. The protesters, dressed in black and holding carnations, called on Carrie Lam to step down and the government to retract the bill. They also held up placards condemning police brutality, such as "don’t shoot our kids."[79] The organisers also said they had collected more than 44,000 signatures in a petition condemning the views Lam expressed in the interview.[80]

Protester's suicide

A protester on the elevated podium on the rooftop of Pacific Place before he fell off from it at night.

Following Carrie Lam's announcement that the extradition bill would not be scrapped and that she would not resign or apologise on 15 June, at 4:30 pm, a 35-year-old male protester name Leung Ling-kit (or Marco Leung) stood on the elevated podium on the rooftop of Pacific Place, a shopping mall in Admiralty.[81] He wore a yellow raincoat with the words "Brutal police are cold blooded" and "Carrie Lam is killing Hong Kong" scrawled on the back. He put on a sign that said "Entirely withdraw China extradition Bill. We were not rioting. Release students and the injured. Carrie Lam, step down."[82]

At 9:15 pm, Democratic Party legislator Kwong Chun-yu and other protesters arrived to persuade him not to jump, and several firefighters tried to rescue him. Nonetheless, the man plunged to his death from the rooftop scaffolding, landed on the sidewalk which was not covered by the inflatable cushion set up by the firefighters.[81] Firefighters provided first aid to the protester immediately, and he was sent to Ruttonjee Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 9:34 pm.[83][84] A note was later found by the police, and Leung's death is hence classified as suicide.[81]

Mourners laying down flowers and saying prayers at the scene, in the June 16 march

He was generally seen as a "martyr", crowds of mourners had gathered overnight at the scene, laying down flowers and saying prayers. Protesters gathering on the next day for the June 16 protest demanding the full withdrawal of the bill were asked to wear black and bring white flowers to commemorate the deceased man. People Power legislator Ray Chan tweeted “You have blood in your hands, Carrie Lam and her administration. The people will make you pay." Famed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei shared the news on his Instagram feed, while Chinese satirist Badiucao honoured the dead man with a poignant cartoon.[84]

June 16 march

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.[85] The pro-democracy camp feared it would be merely a tactical retreat and demanded a full withdrawal of the bill and said they would go ahead with the June 16 rally as planned. "Hongkongers will not fall into such a trap. Unless the extradition bill is being withdrawn one day, Hongkongers will always remember the pain," said Jimmy Sham, Convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF).[86][87] 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 slander of the protest on 12 June as "riot".[88]

Aerial view of the protesting crowd in Causeway Bay on 16 June.

The march started early at 2:30 pm on 16 June, from Victoria Park, Causeway Bay to the Legislative Council in Admiralty on 9 June – an approximately 3km (1.86mi) long route. Protestors, chanting "withdraw", "students are innocent" and "Carrie Lam, step down!", dressed in black and wore white ribbon on their chest, to show their anger at the police brutality demonstrated in the June 12 crackdown.[89] Many protestors started their march from North Point as the police ordered the MTR not to stop at Tin Hau and Causeway Bay for "crowd control" for several hours.[90] Train stations were swamped with hundreds of thousands pouring into the protest zone with those from the Kowloon side trying to join the protest waiting 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 spilled over onto three parallel streets in Wan Chai, major thoroughfares Lockhart Road and Hennessy Road, and Jaffe Road.[91]

Protesters making way for an ambulance on Queensway at night.

Endless waves of black was spotted from Causeway Bay to Admiralty from 3 pm all the way to 11 pm. Some held white flowers and paper flowers to pay tribute to the man who committed suicide on 15 June. Hundreds of bouquets and slogans were left on the site in front of Pacific Place during the march. At night, protesters moved to Harcourt Road, causing traffic to grind to a halt and vehicles to turn back. Protesters, showing their co-operation, gave way to the trapped vehicles, mainly franchised buses and emergency vehicles. At night time, people lit up their phones to show solidarity.[90]

The Civil Human Rights Front announced the final turnout at "almost 2 million plus 1 citizens", denoting the protester who died at the protest scene on the day before, which set the record of the largest protest in Hong Kong history.[92][93][94][95][96] The police said that there are 338,000 at its peak, but admitted that it should be more as only those on the original route were counted.[97] Early in the afternoon, Radio France Internationale reported that Stand News, an independent online news agency, used big data to predict that at most 1.44 million would have participated in the protest.[98] The government issued a statement at 8:30 pm where Carrie Lam apologised to Hong Kong residents and promised to "sincerely and humbly accept all criticism and to improve and serve the public."[99]

A smaller counter-protest occurred outside the U.S. Consulate General in Central. Around 40 protestors from Beijing-supported activist group the Safeguard Hong Kong Alliance and the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU) condemned US for alleged interfering in the extradition law.[100]

June 21 anti-police protest

Protesters outside the Hong Kong police headquarters in Wan Chai on 21 June.

After Carrie Lam apologised but refused to directly respond to the demands of the protesters, a loose association of university-associated protest groups, officially known as the Student's Unions of Higher Institutions, reiterated its four main demands of Lam: Withdraw the extradition bill "completely and permanently"; Retract the government's statement defining the violence on June 12 as a "riot"; Drop all charges against protesters; Establish an independent commission to investigate claims of "police brutality". They set out a deadline at 5 pm on 20 June and vowed to "escalate" their actions if Lam failed to respond.[101] Not receiving any response from the government, protests were called on 21 June.

In the morning, protesters gathered outside the government headquarters and quickly blocked the traffic on Harcourt Road soon after 11 am. Some of the protesters also marched to the Hong Kong Police Headquarters in Wan Chai as Demosistō activist Joshua Wong, who was released from prison only few days ago over his leadership of the 2014 Occupy protests, urged the crowd to surround the complex.[102] Dozens of protesters also staged a sit-in to the Revenue Tower nearby.[103]

Thousands of protesters chanted "Stephen Lo, come out" and "John Lee, dialogue", as well as "release the righteous", "retract", and "shame on police thugs" as crowds swelled in Arsenal Street.[103] Protesters 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.[104] The police took no action to disperse the thousands of protesters. The police sought medical attention and called a total of five ambulances at 9:33 pm and claimed that the medical treatment were delayed due to the blockade by the protesters.[105] After the arrival, the medics has waited for tens of minutes in front of the gate of the police headquarter for the police to unlock it.[106] The siege ended peacefully after 15 hours at 2:40 am as most of the protesters had left and the staff and officers trapped in the building began coming out of a back entrance to board waiting coaches.[104]

Several hundreds pro-Beijing supporters gathered in Chater Garden in Central on 22 June to show support for the Police. Pro-Beijing legislator Priscilla Leung and pro-police campaigner Leticia Lee, along with other pro-Beijing figures organised the rally under the banner "Support Hong Kong Police Force, Blessing to Hong Kong".[107]

Worldwide solidarity protests

On 9 June, at least 29 rallies were held in 12 countries with protesters taking to the streets in cities around the world with significant Hong Kong diaspora, including about 4,000 in London, about 3,000 in Sydney, and further rallies in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Toronto, Vancouver, Berlin, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Taipei.[108][109] As one of the biggest overseas protests, hundreds of demonstrators mostly made up of Hong Kong immigrants filled the street outside the Chinese consulate-general in Vancouver with yellow umbrellas, referencing the 2014 Occupy protests, and chanted against the extradition law. More than 60 people gathered outside the White House in Washington to protest against the bill.[110]

On 12 June, representatives from 24 Taiwanese civic groups, including Taiwan Association for Human Rights, protested outside Hong Kong's representative office in Taipei, while shouting slogans such as "Taiwan supports Hong Kong." In Kaohsiung, around 150 Hong Kong students staged a sit-in protest requesting the Hong Kong government to withdraw the bill.[111] In Adelaide, 150 people protested against the extradition law.[112]

On 16 June, a group of Hong Kong students and local supporters held a peaceful sit-in at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei to support the protest in Hong Kong.[113] In Auckland, New Zealand and Adelaide, Australia, around 500 people gathered to demand Carrie Lam to withdraw the bill and apologise for her actions.[114] Around 1,500 people protested outside the Chinese Consulate in Vancouver, Canada.[115]

Styles

Decentralised leadership

After the internal conflicts over the leadership of the 2014 Occupy protests as well as the imprisonment of high-profile figures in the movement, the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests was highlighted with a decentralised style of no leadership.[116] Although the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) with pro-democracy camp's background has a long history of organising social movements and the organiser of the two massive protests on 9 and 16 June, while Demosistō led by Joshua Wong and the pro-independence groups such as Student Localism called on supporters to participate in marches, rallies, and other forms of direct action, none have stepped up to claim leadership. The pro-democracy legislators were present at the protest scenes, but largely as secondary or supporting roles. Moreover, the protesters' logistical practices — bringing supplies, setting up medical stations, rapid mass communication — were "in-built" from the last protests and largely voluntary.[116]

Online activism

Protesters also took to the internet to exchange information and ideas. Netizens who are mostly anonymous posted on popular online forum LIHKG for creative protest: disrupting the MTR services, gathering for vigils or organising "picnics", making anti-extradition bill memes that appeal to conservative values so that Hong Kong elderly would better understand the anti-extradition rationale.[116]

Lulu Yilun Chen of Bloomberg News stated that protesters had been using Telegram to communicate in order to conceal their own identity and prevent tracking by the Chinese government and Hong Kong Police Force.[117] The app's servers were under DDoS attacks on 12 June. The app's founder Pavel Durov identified the origin of the attack as China,[118][119][120] and stated that it "coincided in time with protests in Hong Kong".[121]

Petition campaigns

A petition to revoke the U.S. citizenship and visas of the Hong Kong and China officials who support the extradition bill.

From May 2019 onwards, multiple petitions against the Bill from over 200 secondary schools, various industries, professions and neighbourhoods were created.[122] More than 167,000 students, alumni and teachers from all public universities and one in seven secondary schools in Hong Kong, including St. Francis' Canossian College which Carrie Lam attended, also launched online petitions against the extradition bill in a snowballing campaign.[123] St. Mary's Canossian College and Wah Yan College, Kowloon, which Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng and Secretary for Security John Lee attended, respectively, also joined the campaign.[123] Even the alumni, students and teachers at St. Stephen's College, which the victim in the Taiwan homicide case Poon Hiu-wing attended from Form 1 to Form 3, were unconvinced as they accused the government of using her case as a pretext to force the bill's passage.[124]

There are also various online petitions including We the People and Change.org. Generally, the petitions request governments in Western countries to respond to the extradition bill and hold the officials who pushed the bill forward accountable and reprehensible by the means of sanctioning and through revoking their citizenship. One petition urged the French government to strip Carrie Lam of her Legion of Honour award.[125]

Christian hymn

A 1974 Christian hymn called "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord" has become the "unofficial anthem" of the anti-extradition protests as it was heard everywhere at the protest sites. On 9 June, a group of Christians began to sing the four-line-verse simple melody at the Central Government Complex after the end of massive protest as they held a public prayer meeting through the night. Led by pastors, the Christians stood between the crowds and police to help prevent violence and pray for Hong Kong with the hymn.[126] Under Hong Kong’s Public Order Ordinance, religious gatherings are exempt from the definition of a "gathering" or "assembly" and therefore more difficult to police.[127][128] The song was repeatedly sung over 10 hours throughout the night and quickly became viral online. It become the "unofficial anthem" of the protests sung by Christians and non-Christians as it could be often heard at the protests.[126]

Censorship

The protests were mostly censored from Mainland Chinese social media, such as Sina Weibo.[129] Keyword searches of "Hong Kong," "HK" and "extradition bill" led to other official news and entertainment news. Accounts that posted content regarding the protest were also blocked.[130] By 14 June, censors were said to be working overtime to erase or block news of the protests on social media. "People are very curious and there is a lot of discussion on this event," according to a Weibo censor.[131] On Sina Weibo and WeChat, the term "let's go Hong Kong" was blocked with the platform citing "relevant laws, regulations and policies" as the reason for not showing search results.[132] However, Chinese social media users are quickly circumventing the censors by rotating relevant pictures or even putting smiley faces on them, meaning the protests are having growing awareness in Mainland China.[133]

Reactions

  •  People's Republic of China – After the June 9 protest, the Beijing government blamed "outside interference" and voiced its support to the Hong Kong administration. The Foreign Ministry accused opponents of the proposed legislation of "collusion with the West".[134] State-run media such as China Daily cited more than 700,000 people backing the legislation through an online petition, "countering a protest by about 240,000 people"[135][134] while the Global Times dismissed the mass demonstration on 9 June, stating that "some international forces have significantly strengthened their interaction with the Hong Kong opposition in recent months".[136]
  •  Macau – On 11 June, due to the events in Hong Kong, the Macau SAR government said it will develop a wait-and-see approach, in regards to making their own extradition law with Mainland China.[137]
  •  TaiwanPresident Tsai Ing-wen expressed her solidarity with the people of Hong Kong, remarking that Taiwan's democracy was hard-earned and had to be guarded and renewed, and pledged that one country, two systems would never be an option as long as she was president, citing the constant and rapid deterioration of Hong Kong's democracy in merely 20 years' time.[138] She also posted on Instagram to provide support for "Hongkongers on the front line", saying that the Taiwanese people would support all those who fight for free speech and democracy.[139] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan stated that they stood shoulder to shoulder with the hundreds of thousands in Hong Kong fighting against the extradition bill and for rule of law, adding, "Taiwan is with you!".[140] They also criticised Hong Kong officials of using Taiwan as an excuse to pass the extradition bill, citing the Hong Kong government's indifference of "multiple requests" to extradite Chan Tong-kai on a case-by-case basis.[141]
  •  CanadaMinister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland released a statement on 12 June, stating that "Canada has been following" the bill, re-affirming that this was one of the largest protests in Hong Kong's history which demonstrates Hong Kong people's deep concerns over this matter. In the statement, she wrote that "Canada remains concerned of the potential effects these proposals may have on the large number of Canadian citizens in Hong Kong, on business confidence, and on Hong Kong's international reputation". The statement urges the Hong Kong government to listen to the people and the international community, as well as to safeguard the high degree of autonomy, rule of law, and independent judiciary of the territory.[142]
  •  United StatesU.S. State Department Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus voiced support for the 9 June protesters, saying that "the peaceful demonstration of hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers yesterday clearly shows the public's opposition to the proposed amendments." They also called on the Hong Kong government to ensure that "any amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance should be pursued with great care."[143] United States House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi strongly condemned the bill and offered support to the protesters. "The hearts of all freedom-loving people were moved by the courage of the one million men and women of Hong Kong who took to the streets on Sunday to peacefully demand their rights, defend their sovereignty and denounce this horrific extradition bill" and that America stands with the people in Hong Kong.[144] President Donald Trump responded that he is sure that China and Hong Kong "will be able to work it out". He also affirmed that there "was a million people" and stated that it "was as big a demonstration as I’ve ever seen".[145] Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the President would discuss the mass protests in Hong Kong with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the upcoming G20 summit in Japan. "We see what’s happening, what’s unfolding in Hong Kong. We are watching the people of Hong Kong speak about the things they value," said Pompeo.[146]
  •  United KingdomForeign Secretary Jeremy Hunt urged the Hong Kong government to listen to the concerns of the protesters, stating that "it is essential that the authorities engage in meaningful dialogue and take steps to preserve Hong Kong's rights and freedoms and high degree of autonomy, which underpin its international reputation". He added that upholding the one country, two systems principle, which is legally bound in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, is vital to Hong Kong's future success.[147] The British Consulate in Hong Kong has also opened its doors for protesters needing sanctuary.[148]
  •  GermanyChancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said the protest was a good sign that the majority of protesters have been peaceful "and we appeal to all concerned to ensure that things remain just as peaceful in Hong Kong."[149]
  •  European Union – The European Union External Affairs Ministry said rights "need to be respected" in Hong Kong on 12 June. "Over the past days, the people of Hong Kong have exercised their fundamental right to assemble and express themselves freely and peacefully. These rights need to be respected."[145]
  •  JapanMinister of Foreign Affairs Tarō Kōno said, "I strongly hope that things will be settled early and Hong Kong's freedom and democracy will be maintained".[150]
  •  Australia - Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne stated "[we] supports the right of people to protest peacefully and to exercise their freedom of speech, and we urge all sides to show restraint and avoid violence."[151]

See also

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