Thousands of anti-extradition protesters block roads surrounding Hong Kong government headquarters

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘GLOBAL VOICES’)

 

Thousands of anti-extradition protesters block roads surrounding Hong Kong government headquarters

Protesters block roads surrounding government headquarters to stop the passing of extradition bill. Image from inmediahk.net. Used with permission.

On June 12, thousands of protesters blocked major roads surrounding Hong Kong’s government headquarters and legislature in the Admiralty district to prevent lawmakers from presenting amendments to a controversial extradition bill. The secretary of the Legislative Council announced that the scheduled session at 11:00 am would be deferred until further notice after lawmakers were unable to reach the Legislative Council Complex.

Venus Wu@wu_venus

This is not the 2014 . This is now.

Just after Sunday’s million-strong protest, the HK gov announced it would continue to push the . The parliament is to debate it today & this is the people’s way of stopping it.

Pic: Tanya Chan’s FB pic.twitter.com/UUzeK0tSRp

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The roadblock protests followed a June 9 rally where over a million people took to the streets against proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment)  Bill. The proposed bill would provide legal grounds for the Chief Executive and local courts to handle case-by-case extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau. Protesters believe that the amendments would make it easier for mainland China to arrest critics, dissidents, and even journalists in Hong Kong.

Soon after the rally, the government issued a statement stressing that the administration will continue to proceed with the second reading of the bill on June 12. The government’s hard-line stance triggered a round of violent clashes between the police and hundreds of young protesters who gathered outside the Legislative Council on June 10.

Confrontation after midnight on June 10. Image from Stand News. Used with permission.

The police arrested 31 protesters and took records of the identity of 358 protesters who stayed overnight after the rally. About 80 percent of them are between 16 to 25-years-old.

On June 10, Chief Executive Carrie Lam continued defending the bill and stressed Hong Kong is “duty-bound to address that deficiency”. The president of the Legislature, Andrew Leung, decided that Hong Kong lawmakers would have to vote on the controversial bill by June 20.

The organizer of the Sunday rally, Civil Human Rights Front, called for another round of protests outside the government headquarters to paralyze the government starting on June 12. Student unions from seven Hong Kong tertiary institutions, including Chinese University and Baptist University, have called for students to boycott classes and join the rally. Over a hundred Hong Kong employers from across industry sectors have pledged to either suspend business or support employees who choose to strike.

About 2,000 protesters gathered overnight outside the Legislative Council on June 11 and more protesters joined them the next morning. At around 8:00 am, thousands of protesters occupied major roads (namely Lung Wo Road and Harcourt Road) surrounding the Legislative Council Building. Jerome Taylor, Hong Kong/Taiwan/Macau bureau chief for AFP, reported on Twitter:

Jerome Taylor

@JeromeTaylor

The crowds on Harcourt Road — this is a major artery through the island that passes just next to the city’s parliament

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Jerome Taylor

@JeromeTaylor

Pepper spray deployed again pic.twitter.com/1wNCzqrYre

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Although the protester’s blockade was able to push back the scheduled session on the morning of June 12, house rules allow the Legislative Council president to resume the meeting with only one hour’s notice.

China’s Premier Says Hong Kong Will Never Be Allowed Independence

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Hong Kong (CNN) China’s second highest-ranking politician criticized calls for Hong Kong independence in a speech to the nation’s parliament Sunday.

Speaking at the opening of the annual National People’s Congress, Premier Li Keqiang said calls from within the city to go it alone would “lead nowhere.”
This was the first time “Hong Kong independence” has ever been mentioned in any Chinese premier’s annual address.
“We will continue to implement, both to the letter and in spirit, the principle of ‘One Country, Two Systems’,” Li said, referring to the doctrine by which Hong Kong maintained certain freedoms and rights after it passed from British rule to Chinese in 1997.
“We pledge our full support to the chief executives and governments of (Hong Kong and Macau) in exercising law-based governance, growing their economies, improving people’s well-being, advancing democracy and promoting social harmony,” Li said.
Macau, a small island near Hong Kong, is also a special administered region of China.
He also had strong words for those who might seek independence for Taiwan. Officially the Republic of China, Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949, but Beijing claims it as an inalienable part of its territory.
“(China) will resolutely oppose and contain separatist activities for Taiwan independence,” Li said. “We will never tolerate any activity, in any form or name, which attempts to separate Taiwan from the motherland.”
Growing trend?
Within Hong Kong, calls for independence from China have been growing since the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests ended in no reforms to the existing political system.
For 79 days, thousands of protesters occupied Hong Kong’s financial district and elsewhere to demand true universal suffrage — one person, one vote, without the interference of Beijing.
The crowd was eventually dispersed by police, and organizers vowed to push for change by other means.
Hong Kong voters elect pro-democracy activists
In parliamentary elections last year, several pro-independence candidates were blocked from standing, but there was nevertheless a pronounced swing towards so-called localist parties, which support anything from greater autonomy to full self-rule.
Two pro-independence lawmakers who were elected never managed to take their seats however, having been ejected by the courts for failing to take their oaths of office properly after they staged a curse word-filled protest during the swearing-in process.
The intervention by Beijing into that case sparked more concerns by many Hong Kongers that the city’s autonomy — as guaranteed by “One Country, Two Systems” — is being eroded.

Fears

Anti-American views clear in new China propaganda

Beijing has always reacted angrily towards any promotion of independence for its special administered regions of Hong Kong and Macau, or suggestions from self-ruled Taiwan that the island should seek full legal independence.
A bizarre propaganda video posted online by the Chinese Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the country’s top prosecutor’s office, in August contrasted apocalyptic images of Syria and Iraq with bucolic views of China today.
“The haze of ‘domestic and international concerns’ has not dispersed from the Chinese sky,” the video said.
“Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan separatism, as well as dissident leaders, lawyers who would fight until death and other agents of Western forces are damaging China’s internal stability and harmony. Behind all these incidents, we can often catch a glimpse of the dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes.”
Speaking to the South China Morning Post Sunday, political advisory body delegate Tam Yiu-chung said the mention of Hong Kong independence by Li shows that “Beijing is very concerned about the problem.”
“The central government would not tolerate it … it’s a very serious problem,” Tam said.
Some commentators have predicted that Hong Kong’s next leader, who will be chosen by a Beijing-dominated “election committee” later this month, will be told to crack down harder on pro-independence sentiment.
“(They) might be asked by Beijing to enact Article 23,” Chinese University of Hong Kong professor Willy Lam told CNN last year, referring to a hugely controversial anti-subversion law that led to mass street protests in 2003 and the eventual resignation of then Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa.

Is Hong Kong Set To Go Up In Flames As The People Buck Against Communist Leaders?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘TIME’)

HONG KONG

Hong Kong Protest Turns Violent as Anxiety Over China’s Interference Rises

Police stop demonstrators as they protest in Hong Kong
Tyrone Siu—Reuters Police stop demonstrators as they protest against what they call Beijing’s interference over local politics and the rule of law in Hong Kong, China November 6, 2016.

Police used pepper spray and batons on protesters who stormed a barricade

A massive protest in Hong Kong turned violent Sunday night when demonstrators attempted to storm a police barricade outside the Chinese government’s headquarters, prompting officers to retaliate with pepper spray and batons.

The protest began peacefully earlier in the day: with thousands of people marching across town to decry Beijing’s controversial decision this week to effectively decide the fate of two radical lawmakers who call for the semi-autonomous territory’s outright independence from China. The maverick legislators, 25-year-old Yau Wai-ching and 30-year-old Sixtus “Baggio” Leung, who came to political prominence in the wake of the 2014 pro-democracy protests, have been the subject of scandal since they gave their oaths of office on Oct. 12. The pair refused to pledge allegiance to Hong Kong’s constitution, the Basic Law, and instead swore fealty to the “Hong Kong Nation” — the oath required them to swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

Read More: China Will Intervene in the Case of Hong Kong’s Pro-Independence Lawmakers

On Friday, the Hong Kong government announced that Beijing would step in and interpret the Basic Law accordingly to decide if Yau and Leung would still be able to take their seats. The issue is currently being decided in a local court, but at a meeting on Sunday with Hong Kong’s representatives to Beijing, Zhang Xiaoming, mainland China’s most senior official in Hong Kong, said Beijing would “absolutely” not permit pro-independence politicians to serve as lawmakers, according to the South China Morning Post.

Beijing’s actions in the matter have widely been seen as a violation of Hong Kong’s constitutional principle known as “one country, two systems,” enacted in 1997 when the British returned the former colony to China.

Under this system, Hong Kongers maintain the right to freedom of speech and protest, freedoms that citizens of mainland China do not enjoy. On Sunday, as many as 10,000 people marched nearly 2.5 miles from the district of Wan Chai to the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government, Beijing’s nerve center in the territory. The demonstrators were civil but spirited, speaking out against what they say is Chinese encroachment in Hong Kong and a local government that has failed to defend their constitutional rights.

Read More: Court in Hong Kong Hears Case Against Two Pro-Independence Lawmakers

“The [Chinese government] stepped over the line. It’s a blatant violation of the Basic Law to take the initiative to interpret it,” 25-year-old Francis Chung, who works in the financial sector, tells TIME. “I’m rather pessimistic regarding Hong Kong’s way forward, but I’ll do what I can, come out and march.”

When the crowd approached the Liaison Office, however, they faced a police barricade. Prominent activist figures like 20-year-old Joshua Wong, a figurehead of the 2014 pro-democracy protests known as the Umbrella Revolution, gave rousing speeches.

“It’s time for us to show our disagreement with the communist regime’s suppression of Hong Kong’s rule of law and judicial independence,” Wong tells TIME. “The number of participants of today’s protest to the Liaison Office is the highest in three years. It shows the anger of Hong Kongers with the suppression.”

It is unclear what or who prompted some members of the crowd to storm the police barricade shortly after 8 p.m. local time. In the preceding hour, officers unfurled banners urging the protesters to stop charging or they would use force. After beating back demonstrators with their batons, the police used pepper spray. Still, the crowd continued to push against the metal grate, unfurling umbrellas — an icon of the Umbrella Revolution — to protect themselves.

The scuffle was promptly subdued, but as of 9:15 p.m. demonstrators continued to occupy the streets around the Liaison Office.

Read More: Chaos Again at Hong Kong’s Legislature as Chinese Intervention Said to Loom Large

The protest marked the crescendo of months of simmering political tensions in Hong Kong. Hostility towards what many see as China’s impingement on the city has mounted since late last year, when five local booksellers, who sold works critical of mainland leaders, disappeared and resurfaced months later in the custody of mainland police. The unease precipitated an unprecedented movement demanding Hong Kong’s independence from China — a call deemed seditious by mainland authorities and also the Hong Kong government, seen by many as Beijing’s proxy power. Several pro-independence candidates were barred from running in the Sept. 4 Legislative Council elections.

When asked in an interview with TIME on Saturday — less than 24 hours before Sunday’s clashes — if she believed the popular unrest in Hong Kong would grow violent, and if she would join in if it did, Yau replied in the affirmative.

“I’m the people’s lawmaker, and I have to give my support to them,” she said. “I’ve taken my oath to them.”

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