Hong Kong protesters are staging a new round of rally to protest against a controversial extradition bill today after Wednesday’s violent clashes between demonstrators and police shocked the world.
Hundreds of mothers organised a sit-down in Central to express their opposition to the proposed new law.
‘Don’t shoot our kids!’ said the signboard held by one mother.
‘Withdraw the bill, stop being an enemy of the people!’ Another mother pleaded.
Meanwhile, cracks appeared to emerge today in the support base for the proposed Hong Kong law that would allow extraditions to China as opponents of the bill vowed further demonstrations.
Two members of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing political camp urged the city’s leader Carrie Lam to halt discussions on the unpopular legislation which sparked unprecedented mass protests this week.
The international finance hub was rocked by the worst political violence since its 1997 handover to China on Wednesday as tens of thousands of unarmed protesters were dispersed by riot police firing tear gas, rubber bullets and beanbag rounds.
One mother is seen holding a signboard that says ‘Don’t shoot our Kids!’ in a new round of rally in Hong Kong today
Residents of the city are urging the government to retract a proposed law that would allow extradition to mainland China
Calm appeared to have returned to Hong Kong after days of protests by students and human rights activists opposed to the bill. A protest on Wednesday led to violent clashes between activists and riot police who used tear gas and rubber bullets
Today’s peaceful sit-in was organised by Civil Human Rights Front, the same group that initiated the million-strong protest on Sunday.
Yesterday, the group urged parents in the city to join them in the demonstration on its Facebook page.
Their post read: ‘We call upon mums to gather in Chater Garden in Central and use the firm strength of mothers to encourage the Hong Kong youngsters and to let them know that they are not alone.’
The post continued: ‘Together we urge the Chief Executive to break the deadlock and retract the amendments to law at once.’
The online petition, signed by tens of thousands, voiced disagreement with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s analogy likening herself and protesters of the extradition bill to a mother and her spoiled children during an interview this week.
Hundreds of mothers have gathered in Chater Garden in Central to express their opposition to the pending amendments
Residents in Hong Kong have staged demonstration six days in a row since an estimate one million people took to the streets
One mother is seen holding a signboard that says ‘protect children, protect Hong Kong’ during today’s peaceful sit-down
The rally’s organisers call upon mothers to use their ‘firm strength’ to encourage the Hong Kong youngsters as a unit
The city’s pro-Beijing Chief Executive Carrie Lam has so far refused to meet protester demands to withdraw or scrap the bill, which the government plans to put to a vote by next week.
But today Lam found herself facing calls from within her own political camp to reverse course and tamp down spiralling public anger.
The comments are the first indication that supporters of the extradition law are now having second thoughts following a growing public backlash.
The sit in is organised by Civil Human Rights Front, the same group that initiated the million-strong protest on Sunday
Meanwhile, cracks have appeared to emerge in the support base for the proposed Hong Kong law within the government
The international finance hub was rocked by the worst political violence since its 1997 handover to China on Wednesday
Michael Tien, a member of Hong Kong’s legislature and a deputy to China’s national parliament, openly called on Lam to postpone the bill.
‘She would gain points instead of losing points,’ he told reporters.
‘Nothing is ever too late. New situations arise that would provide the basis for any leader to change their position. There’s nothing wrong with that.’
‘Give Hong Kong back to us’: One protesters is pictured holding a piece of paper to oppose to the potential legislation
The mothers started an online petition, signed by tens of thousands, to voice their disagreement with Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s analogy likening herself and protesters of the extradition bill to a mother and her spoiled children
In self-ruled Taiwan, university students staged a rally today to show their support to the protesters in Hong Kong
The Taiwanese rally took place in the island’s capital Taipei and were attended by students from National Taiwan University
Tien’s comments came as Lam’s own advisor said pushing ahead with fast-tracking the bill through the city’s legislature had now become ‘impossible’.
Executive Council member Bernard Chan, one of the key advisers to Lam told Cable TV today he did not think formal discussion of the bill, a precursor to a final vote by the legislature, should continue at present.
‘Do we consult, strengthen the bill, or what? Is there still any chance of the bill passing? These are all factors the government must consider,’ he said.
Two members of Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing political camp urged the city’s leader Carrie Lam (above) to halt discussions on the extradition bill which sparked unprecedented protests
The city’s pro-Beijing Chief Executive Carrie Lam has so far refused to meet protester demands to withdraw or scrap the bill, which the government plans to put to a vote by next week
Michael Tien, a member of Hong Kong’s legislature and a deputy to China’s national parliament, openly called on Lam to postpone the bill. Above, Tien pictured in 2016
‘But I definitely say that right now it’s not possible – at a time when there are such intense divisions – to keep discussing this issue. The difficulty is very high.’
At the very least we should not escalate the antagonism,’ he added, although he stopped short of saying whether the bill should be scrapped.
Chan sits on the Executive Council – the equivalent of a cabinet – and was appointed by Lam two years ago to be a top adviser.
Pro-democracy lawmakers Claudia Mo (front, centre) and Gary Fan Kwok-wai (front, right) attempt to march to Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s residence a day after a violent protest against an extradition law in Hong Kong broke out in the city
Police stand guard as protesters display placards during a demonstration against a controversial extradition law proposal near the government headquarters in Hong Kong today
Executive council member Ronny Tong has also suggested having a consultation on the bill before progressing, according to broadcaster RTHK.
And 22 former government officials or Legislative Council members, including former security secretary Peter Lai Hing-ling, signed a statement calling on Lam to ‘yield to public opinion and withdraw the Bill for more thorough deliberation’.
‘It is time for Hong Kong to have a cool-down period,’ Lai told Reuters. ‘Let frayed tempers settle before we resume discussion of this controversial issue. Please, no more blood-letting!’
The officials argued it was unwise to trigger more tensions with the public following protests Wednesday that turned violent. A total of 81 people were injured.
The extradition bill, which will cover Hong Kong residents and foreign and Chinese nationals living or travelling in the city, has many concerned it may threaten the rule of law that underpins Hong Kong’s international financial status.
Opposition to the bill on Sunday triggered the former British colony’s biggest political demonstration since its return to Chinese rule in 1997 under a ‘one country, two systems’ deal guaranteeing it special autonomy, including freedom of assembly, free press and independent judiciary.
Police use tear gas to block protesters from coming closer to the Legislative Council
Executive council member Ronny Tong has also suggested having a consultation on the bill before progressing, according to broadcaster RTHK
Many accuse China of extensive meddling since then, including obstruction of democratic reforms, interference with elections and of being behind the disappearance of five Hong Kong-based booksellers, starting in 2015, who specialised in works critical of Chinese leaders.
Beijing-backed Lam has stood by the bill, saying it is necessary to plug loopholes that allow criminals wanted on the mainland to use the city as a haven. She has said Hong Kong courts would safeguard human rights.
Lam has not appeared in public or commented since Wednesday.
China, where courts are controlled by the Communist Party, has rejected accusations of undermining Hong Kong’s freedoms.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Hong Kong matters were an internal affair for China and nobody had a right to interfere.
‘Any vain plots to cause chaos in Hong Kong or to damage Hong Kong´s prosperity and stability will be resolutely opposed by the whole people of China including the vast majority of Hong Kong compatriots,’ he said. ‘This does not enjoy popular support and will not succeed.’
The proposed bill has thrown Hong Kong, one of the world’s most densely populated cities, into chaos, starting on Sunday with a march that drew what organisers said was more than a million people.
China, where courts are controlled by the Communist Party, has rejected accusations of undermining Hong Kong’s freedoms
Opposition to the bill on Sunday triggered the former British colony’s biggest political demonstration since its return to Chinese rule in 1997 under a ‘one country, two systems’ deal guaranteeing it special autonomy, including freedom of assembly, free press and independent judiciary
Today, police kept a close watch as the city returned to normal, with most protesters retreating and banks re-opening.
But further demonstrations are planned.
Organisers have urged people to take to the streets on Sunday and protesters have applied for a permit to gather on Monday, when legislators may reconvene to discuss the bill. The Confederation of Trade Unions and Professional Teachers Union called for a citywide strike.
A few dozen demonstrators clustered today near the legislature, which had been scheduled to debate the bill this week.
‘We are going to be here fixed today to show people that we are here to support. Everyone is planning for a big march on Sunday like last week but no one knows what will happen at night or after,’ said a woman surnamed Chan, who was helping at a makeshift first aid and supply station.
Police have made more than a dozen arrests, some in hospitals and university campuses, while scores were wounded in the clashes.
In the United States, senior congressional lawmakers from both parties introduced legislation to require an annual justification from the U.S. government for the continuation of special business and trade privileges to Hong Kong. China called on the United States not to pass such legislation.
The hawkish Chinese newspaper, the Global Times, lambasted foreign leaders for being hypocrites and said their failure to condemn violent demonstrators was ‘a stark provocation’.