(TibetanReview.net, Apr30’19) – Some 130,000 protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong on Apr 28 to express opposition to a legislative amendment that would allow the transfer of fugitives to mainland China and other jurisdictions in the largest rally in this special administrative region of China in the last five years.
The rally’s organizer, Civil Human Rights Front, a coalition of human rights and pro-democracy groups, warned that it could escalate its actions, reported scmp.com Apr 28.
The front has demanded that the proposed law be dropped immediately. It called the controversial plan the “send to China rules”, a phrase which in Cantonese sounds like the term for funeral rites, noted the report.
The protesters, coming from all walks of life, were also reported to have called on the city’s leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to step down, accusing her of betraying the Hong Kong people.
While the front said 130,000 took part in the 2.2km, over four-hour march from Causeway Bay to the Legislative Council in Admiralty, police estimated that at its height, 22,800 joined, the report noted.
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, the city’s No 2 official, has claimed that the
arrangement would not apply to cases involving human rights, politics or capital punishment.
The city government has said it would reject any surrender request that did not meet legal requirements. However, it remains doubtful whether the city government would be able to stand up to pressure from China which had previously kidnapped and taken away book publishers/sellers without any demur from it.
Critics are said to fear that Beijing could also abuse the new arrangement to target political activists.
The report cited Polly Lau, a retired civil servant, as saying the amendment put Hongkongers at risk of being sent to the mainland to stand trial. “I think the government is acting like the enemy of the people.”
The front had organised a similar march last month and claimed a turnout of 12,000, although police estimated 5,200 took part.
The higher turnout this time was attributed to the jailing of four Occupy movement leaders on Apr 24 for up to 16 months. The report noted that the turnout was the largest since an estimated 510,000 joined the annual Jul 1 protest in 2014. The report said some protesters held photos of the four jailed Occupy leaders – co-founders Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Dr Chan Kin-man, lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun and League of Social Democrats vice-chairman Raphael Wong Ho-ming.
Front vice convener Figo Chan Ho-hang has said, “If the government does not respond to the public’s demands … the front will take action to surround Legco.”
The business community was also reported to be opposed to the amendment proposal even though the government had watered it down by removing nine economic crimes related to tax, securities and futures, as well as the unlawful use of a computer, from the list of extraditable offences.