HK protest organisers vow to press ahead with Sunday march and strike action despite government backing down on extradition bill

17-Jun-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Hong Kong’s pan-democrats vowed to press ahead with a protest on Sunday and called for the city’s leader to resign, despite the government suspending its contentious extradition bill on Saturday.

Three pressure groups that had planned strikes and class boycotts for Monday, however, scrapped their plans after the announcement.

On Saturday, the Civil Human Rights Front continued to appeal for support for Sunday’s march, as the government paused the passage of a bill that, if passed, would allow the city to transfer fugitives to jurisdictions it lacks an extradition arrangement with, including mainland China.

At a press conference, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the suspension would allow officials to “restart communication” with the public and prevent further clashes between police and protesters.



But the front’s convenor, Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, expressed disappointment at Lam’s remarks, and said by announcing a suspension of the bill, she had failed to address Hongkongers’ demand to withdraw the legislation.

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“The knife is still stabbed near the heart of Hong Kong.” he said. “Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor just needs to push the knife gently, in three or four weeks, or a month’s time, she can forcibly pass the legislation.”

While organisers claimed more than a million people had joined last Sunday’s protest the police put the figure at 240,000 Sham dodged questions on whether the announcement would mean people stayed at home this time around.

“[Lam] did not address the problems Hongkongers were worried about,” Sham said.

Last weekend’s march was followed by protests on Wednesday, which led to the clashes around the Legislative Council in Admiralty, during which police fired more than 150 rounds of tear gas and about 20 beanbag rounds, as well as “several” rounds of rubber bullets.

Eleven people were arrested in connection with the protests, which saw about 80 people injured, including 22 police officers.

As it happened: Carrie Lam backs down and ‘suspends’ Hong Kong extradition bill

On Saturday, the front also secured a notice of no objection from the police for their second march from Victoria Park, in Causeway Bay, to outside Legco, which is expected to start at 2.30pm.

Both the front and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, however, scrapped plans for a mass strike for Monday.

Bonnie Leung Wing-man, the front’s vice-convenor, said as there would be no meetings on the extradition bill on Monday, the public did not need to surround the legislature like thousands did on Wednesday.

But the front said it would consider calling for strikes and class boycotts in the future if Lam did not scrap the bill.

Fung Wai-wah, president of the Professional Teachers’ Union, said the union would not continue to call on teachers to boycott lectures or go on strike.

“Instead we suggest teachers across the city dress in white, meaning there is still some light in our lives, and safeguard our students,” Fung said.

The union insisted the government should withdraw the bill, and the three senior officials behind it, namely Lam, the secretary for security John Lee Ka-chiu, and the secretary for justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, should take responsibility and resign.

The union also urged the secretary for education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung to retract a letter he wrote on Thursday, which asked school heads to discipline teachers who went on strike.

A spokeswoman of the Education Bureau said the letter was just a reminder, and outlined the bureau’s long-standing position against any form of disturbances to students. She added that staff matters in school were always left to the school management.

Meanwhile, pan-democratic lawmakers remained dissatisfied after meeting Lam at government House on Saturday evening.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung said the meeting lasted about one hour, during which Lam ruled out resigning.

“Lam said she’s still confident in governing Hong Kong,” Yeung said. “She still thinks she’s in the right.”

Yeung said pan-democrats also urged the government not to prosecute protesters, at least four of whom were arrested for rioting, but have yet to be charged.

Before the meeting, pan-dems also called for the government to backtrack on describing last Sunday’s protest as a riot, and asked for the bill to be withdrawn.

Democratic Party legislator James To Kun-sun said the bill still “hangs over Hongkongers’ heads” and could be brought back to the Legislative Council within a month’s time.

Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung said the government should seek to develop long-term extradition agreements with various jurisdictions, instead of pushing forward a bill that covers many countries, including mainland China.

“It would be way more constructive and provides much better protection,” he said.

A fund named the Anti-Extradition Protest Trust has been set up to help those injured or arrested in the recent protests.

Separately, a man died on Saturday evening after falling from the rooftop of shopping centre Pacific Place in Admiralty during an apparent protest against the extradition bill.

The man was seen climbing to the top of the mall at around 4.30pm, putting out a white banner that read: “Help Hong Kong. Make love, no shoot. No extradition to China.”

After an almost five-hour stand-off on the rooftop, the man fell to the ground at about 9pm and was rushed to Ruttonjee Hospital unconscious, police said.

It is understood that the man was talking with a negotiator when he suddenly climbed out to the scaffolding around the upper floors of the mall. Firefighters saw that he was in danger of falling and rushed forward to grab him, but they eventually failed to secure him before he fell.



Category: Hong Kong

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