HK protests: All the latest updates

15-Jun-2019 Intellasia | Aljazeera | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Clashes as riot police fire tear gas to disperse protesters against controversial bill allowing extradition to China.

Protests have been raging in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill, which, if approved, would allow suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.

On June 9, more than a million people marched against the bill, which they fear will allow China to encroach on rights in the semi-autonomous territory.

Three days later, Hong Kong police fired rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas at a crowd of tens of thousands surrounding a government complex.

Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, has refused to back peddle on the law, calling the demonstrations a “blatant, organised riot”, while Beijing has warned the international community to stay out of its internal affairs.

With protest leaders calling for another mass demonstration on Sunday 16, here are the latest updates:

Thursday, June 13:

Vote on extradition bill postponed again

Hong Kong’s legislature will not vote on the controversial extradition bill on Friday, Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride reported from Hong Kong.

The vote was supposed to take place on Wednesday, but was initially postponed after mass protests, which forced both the government and legislative buildings to close on Friday.

It is not clear when the vote will take place.

Local journalists protest at police press conference

Local journalists protested against claims by police that officers did not use excessive force against protesters on Wednesday.

At a press conference organised by police on Thursday, local journalists donned the high-visibility jackets, helmets and gas masks worn by protesters “just to show that they do not believe Hong Kong police acted with a minimum of force,” Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride reported.

For their part, the police said they only used a minimum amount of force and did show restraint.

HK ‘definitely’ not seeking Chinese military assistance: police chief

Hong Kong’s Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung has said the city will “definitely” not seek the Chinese army’s assistance in dealing with massive protests.

“At the moment, we would definitely not seek [the People's Liberation Army's] assistance. We have sufficient manpower, sufficient power to maintain the situation,” Lo said.

He added that 22 police officers were injured on Wednesday and that demonstrators used bricks and poles to attack police.

The comment comes just over a week after the 30th anniversary of student protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, in which an unknown number of demonstrators were killed by the Chinese military.

Eleven arrested in Wednesday protests: police chief

Hong Kong authorities arrested 11 people during Wednesday’s protests, police chief Stephen Lo Wai-chung said on Thursday.

Speaking at a press briefing, Lo said 22 police officers were injured in the protests, which turned violent as police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray.

Hong Kong protest leaders call for new rally, strike

Hong Kong protest leaders have announced plans for another mass rally on Sunday and a city-wide strike on Monday.

“[We] will fight until the end with Hong Kong people,” Jimmy Sham from the Civil human Rights Front, the main protest group, said, adding that it had applied for permission to hold the weekend rally.

“When facing ignorance, contempt and suppression, we will only be stronger, there will only be more Hong Kong people,” he told reporters on Thursday.

China hits back at EU comments

China has shot back at the European Union’s remarks about political freedom in Hong Kong, urging the bloc to be “cautious” about interfering in China’s “internal affairs”.

Geng Shuang, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, expressed “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” to the EU’s “irresponsible and erroneous” statements.

“We have said many times that Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs,” Geng said. “No country, organisation or individual has the right to intervene”.

The EU earlier called for the Hong Kong government to respect the rights of protesters.

Seventy-nine people being treated after Wednesday protests: Hong Kong officials

Public hospitals in Hong Kong were treating 79 people for protest-related injuries as of 11am local time (0300 GMT).

A statement from the Hospital Authority said 56 of the injured were male and 23 were female, adding that the figures included both civilians and police officers.

Taiwan says protests show ‘one country, two systems’ doesn’t work

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has said the protests in Hong Kong show that the “one country, two systems” framework doesn’t work.

Tsai told reporters on Thursday that the government in Hong Kong should listen to its people and not rush to pass the controversial legislation that sparked the protests.

A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to China under the principle of “one country, two systems,” in which Hong Kong received semi-autonomy and greater freedoms than mainland China.

Self-governed Taiwan is claimed by China, who wants the territory to reunite with it under a similar framework as Hong Kong.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Tsai urged people to “look at Hong Kong and think about Taiwan.”

Young people have lost faith in police and government: Hong Kong official

A Hong Kong legislator has said young people there have lost faith in the police and their government following violent clashes with protesters.

Labour Party vice Chair Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung told The Associated Press that the relationship between citizens and the authorities “has been completely deteriorated”.

Cheung said on Thursday that “We’ve seen [the police] use extreme forces which are not proportional to the demonstration”.

He added that the widespread use of face masks by protesters and their unwillingness to be identified was understandable given the authorities’ growing tendency to file heavy charges for seemingly mild public disorder offenses.

Telegram CEO links cyberattack to China

Pavel Durov, CEO of encrypted messaging app Telegram, has said it was hit by a powerful cyberattack that coincided with the protests.

In a post on Twitter on Thursday, Durov said that the attack mostly came from a Chinese IP address.

“Historically, all state actor-sized [attacks] we experienced coincided in time with protests in Hong Kong (coordinated on @telegram). This case was not an exception”.

The messaging system is frequently used to arrange protests in the hopes of evading government surveillance.

Hong Kong authorities shut government offices due to protests

Hong Kong authorities have shut government offices in the city’s financial district for the rest of the week after a day of violence over an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial.

Early on Thursday just a handful of protester remained milling about as a widespread cleanup around the city’s legislature took place.

Police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray in a series of skirmishes on Wednesday to clear demonstrators from the city’s legislature.

It was some of the worst violence in Hong Kong since Britain handed it back to Chinese rule in 1997.

The Hong Kong Hospital Authority said 72 people had been hospitalised by 10 pm on Wednesday.

China state media blames Hong Kong protests on ‘lawlessness’

Protests in Hong Kong over planned new extradition laws with China are “hammering” the city’s reputation, with outbreaks of “lawlessness” undermining rule of law, Chinese state media said in editorials published on Thursday.

Hong Kong riot police and protesters braced for possible further clashes on Thursday after a day of violence over the extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial.

The English-language China Daily said the new amendments were in line with international conventions but “the opposition camp and its foreign masters seem willing to oppose it for their own purposes at the expense of the city’s rule of law, public safety and justice.”

“It is lawlessness that will hurt Hong Kong, not the proposed amendments to its fugitive law,” it said.

The state-owned tabloid The Global Times blamed “radical opposition forces” and “the Western forces behind them” for hyping up and politicising the amendments.

Wednesday June, 12:

Hong Kong chief slams ‘blatant, organised riot’

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam pointed the finger at protesters for the politically motivated “riot” which was marked by violence and police force.

Lam said that some young people in the crowd had expressed their views peacefully, but she condemned protesters who resorted to “dangerous and life-threatening acts”.

Lam’s added that the peaceful protests that flowed through the city’s streets on Sunday had devolved into a “blatant, organised riot.”

EU says Hong Kong rights ‘need to be respected’

The European Union said on Wednesday the Hong Kong government must respect citizens rights while all sides should exercise restraint after violent protests against plans to allow extradition to mainland China.

“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,” a statement issued by the EU’s external affairs arm said.

“Restraint should be exercised by all sides; violence and escalatory responses must be avoided,” it added.

Rights group denounces ‘excessive’ police force

Amnesty International has condemned what it called excessive force by Hong Kong police against the largely peaceful protesters, saying it violates international law and is likely to lead to worsening violence.

Man-Kei Tam, Amnesty’s Hong Kong director, said tear gas and rubber bullets should never be used to disperse peaceful protesters because they are “notoriously inaccurate and indiscriminate, and can result in serious injury and even death”.

The rights group warned that the police action was “fuelling tensions and is likely to contribute to worsening violence, rather than end it”.

At least 72 people were taken to hospitals after the massive protests. According to the Hong Kong Hospital Authority, 10 remained in treatment, 19 were in stable condition, and 41 have been released.

Trump hopes protesters ‘work it out’ with China

US President Donald Trump has said he understands Hong Kong protesters but hopes they can “work it out” with Beijing.

“I hope they’re going to be able to work it out with China,” Trump told reporters at the White House.”I understand the reason for the demonstration,” he said. “I hope it all works out for China and for Hong Kong.”

Trump’s cautious response to what he said were “massive” demonstrations came as Washington and Beijing try to pick up the pieces of their collapsed talks on resolving a trade war.

“We’re doing very well with respect to China,” Trump said, referring to huge trade tariffs imposed on Chinese imports. “I have a feeling that we’re going to make a deal with China,” he said.

Protesters vow to keep fighting

Following a day of sit-ins, tear gas and clashes with police, Hong Kong students and civil rights activists vowed to keep protesting against the proposed extradition bill.

“We’ll stay until the government drops this law and [Chinese President] Xi Jinping gives up on trying to turn Hong Kong into just another city in China like Beijing and Shanghai,” college student Louis Wong Wong said.

Traffic in one of the busiest parts of the city remained blocked.

“We want the government to just set the legislation aside and not bring it back,” said a protester who gave only his first name, Marco, because he feared possible repercussions from authorities.

Another protester, who gave her name only as King, said: “We have to stand up for our rights or they will be taken away”.

Germany reviews its Hong Kong extradition accord

A foreign ministry spokeswoman has said Germany is “examining whether the existing bilateral extradition agreement between Germany and Hong Kong could continue to be implemented in its current form if the planned extradition bill is approved”.

Maria Adebahr also said that Berlin and its European Union partners have expressed their concern to Hong Kong authorities.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said it 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”.

Legal group urges Hong Kong to withdraw bill

The Hong Kong Bar Association urged the government to “withdraw the bill for a full and proper consultation”.

In a letter addressed to Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, Chair Philip Dykes said the group wants to know whether the government took into account the human rights situation in mainland China before seeking assurances from Beijing on the matter.

UK PM May: We are concerned

British prime minister Theresa May said extradition rules in Hong Kong had to respect the rights and freedoms set out in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.

“We are concerned about potential effects of these proposals particularly obviously given the large number of British citizens there are in Hong Kong,” May told parliament.

“But it is vital that those extradition arrangements in Hong Kong are in line with the rights and freedoms that were set down in the Sino-British joint declaration.”

UK calls on Hong Kong to pause extradition bill

Britain urged the Hong Kong government to “pause and reflect” on the extradition bill that has sparked widespread protests and said the former British colony must protect its rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy.

“I urge the Hong Kong government to listen to the concerns of its people and its friends in the international community and to pause and reflect on these controversial measures,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

“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.”

Police defend ‘non-lethal’ use of force

At a brief news conference held as the chaos swirled just outside, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung called the demonstration a riot and condemned the “irresponsible behaviour” of protesters.

That could spell long jail terms for anyone arrested, adding to concerns that Hong Kong’s government is using public disturbance laws to intimidate political protesters.

Police spokesman Gong Weng Chun defended the decision to use tear gas and other non-lethal weapons to quell the demonstration.

Protesters tear gassed

Hong Kong police used tear gas, pepper spray and high-pressure water hoses against protesters who laid siege to government buildings to oppose the extradition bill.

Thousands of protesters blocked entry to Hong Kong’s government headquarters, delaying a legislative session on proposed changes to the law.

Demonstrators moved metal crowd control barriers, ignoring police warnings to stop. When the crowd gained access to the grounds of the legislature building, police fired more tear gas to push them back.

After most of the crowd was dispersed, some 100 demonstrators could be seen holding their ground in one section of the complex.

HK administration: ‘Leave the area’

In an earlier statement to reporters, Chief Secretary for Administration Mathew Cheung asked demonstrators to leave the area.

“The Hong Kong government calls on people who are blocking roads to… go back to the pavement as soon as possible,” he said.

Cheung gave no indication of when the delayed legislative debate would begin.

China reiterates support for Hong Kong government

China’s central government firmly supports the Hong Kong government in passing an extradition law, the foreign ministry reiterated.

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a news briefing in Beijing any actions that harm Hong Kong are opposed by mainstream Hong Kong public opinion. He also urged the United States to speak and act with caution regarding Hong Kong.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong demonstrators surrounded the Chinese-ruled city’s legislature, forcing it to postpone a second round of debate on the bill.

Hong Kong Consulate in Taiwan

Dozens of people protested outside the Hong Kong Consulate in Taiwan to denounce proposed amendments to Hong Kong’s extradition laws.

Hong Kong students sitting outside the consulate in Taipei held posters reading “No extradition to China” and chanting: “Hong Kong government, Shame on you.”

Ho Wing Tung, a Hong Kong student in Taiwan, said the rule of law won’t exist if the legislation passes and she is afraid the “one country, two systems” principle would become a joke.

Hong Kong delays bill debate as crowds mass

Thousands of protesters blocked entry to Hong Kong’s government headquarters, delaying a legislative session on the proposed law change.

The overwhelmingly young crowd overflowed onto a major downtown road, overturning barriers and tussling with police outside the building that houses the chambers where the legislature was to discuss the bill.

A curt government statement said the session scheduled to begin at 11am would be “changed to a later time.” An earlier statement said staff members were advised not to go to work and those already on the premises were told to “stay at their working place until further notice.”

Tuesday, June 11

Open debate on controversial bill

Protesters in Hong Kong are gathering outside the semiautonomous Chinese territory’s legislature amid plans for further demonstrations and strike actions on Wednesday morning.

The administration of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam plans to open debate on the legal amendments on Wednesday.

Largest demonstration in decades

The head of Hong Kong’s legislature has announced the schedule for debate on contentious changes to the territory’s extradition laws, setting a vote by June 20.

Legislature President Andrew Leung said Tuesday that he had accepted 153 out of 238 proposed amendments to the bills. He said there would be 66 hours for debate.

Hundreds of thousands of people protested against the legislation on Sunday in the largest demonstration in Hong Kong in more than a decade.

The turnout reflected growing apprehension about relations with the Communist Party-ruled mainland.


Category: Hong Kong

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