Protesters arrested after storming HK government headquarters over proposal to extradite fugitives to mainland China

16-Mar-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Five young women were arrested on Friday after storming the Hong Kong government’s headquarters to condemn a proposal to allow the transfer of fugitives from the city to mainland China.

Police also took away other activists who had amassed outside the Admiralty complex.

The stand-off started soon after 11.15am, when the protesters ran down an escalator to the lobby.

A live broadcast on the Facebook page of political party Demosisto showed the quintet sitting on the lobby floor, surrounded by about a dozen security guards in fluorescent jackets.

Four of the five women were identified as Demosisto members Glue Ho Ka-yau and Lily Wong, and Lingnan University students Yanny Chan Wing-yan and Prince Wong Ji-yuet, also a former spokeswoman for the party.

Outside the glass doors to the lobby, which security guards had closed to stop more demonstrators from squeezing in, another group of activists chanted slogans, demanding the government drop its extradition plan.

The proposed legal amendment would allow the handover of fugitives — on a case-by-case basis — to jurisdictions with which the city has no formal transfer policy, including mainland China, Taiwan and Macau.

The protesters demanded that the government establish a separate agreement with Taiwan, and exclude mainland China from the proposed transfer mechanism.

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By 12.05pm, Demosisto, the party founded by pro-democracy figure Joshua Wong Chi-fung and others, said the building’s administrators had told the protesters to leave or risk arrest.

At about 12.30pm, dozens of police officers arrived. They set up metal barricades leading from the lobby to their bus.

Four men, including the person filming the live broadcast, were taken to the bus one by one, while others chanted “Shame on the police” and “Retract the proposal”.

Starting from 12.55pm, the five women were removed from the lobby one by one. Each was carried by four female officers to the police bus.

The four men were taken to Central Police Station, while the women were held in Wan Chai. Joshua Wong and his party colleague Nathan Law Kwun-chung called on city residents to gather outside the police stations in support of the protesters.

Demosisto chair Ivan Lam Long-yin was among the arrested.

We hope the government can have a rational conversation with us, instead of avoiding our questions and requests

Ivan Lam, Demosisto chair

Speaking before his arrest, he said the group was forced to block the lobby because officials had ignored its two protests aimed at Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah and Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu in the past week.

“We hope the government can have a rational conversation with us, instead of avoiding our questions and requests,” Lam said.

After the sit-in began — but before his arrest — Lam called Cheng’s and Lee’s respective offices. A worker at the Department of Justice said Cheng had been in a meeting, and took a message from Lam. The call to Lee went unanswered.

Lam said only the five women made it into the lobby because male protesters were pushed out by the male security guards.

“The government didn’t deploy female guards in time. Therefore, the five women got in successfully,” Lam said.

The lobby where the sit-in happened faces the so-called “Civic Square”, a forecourt popular with protesters which was closed to the public in the run-up to the pro-democracy Occupy protests of 2014.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor reopened the space in 2017, but with restrictions, including on opening hours. In November 2018 the High Court declared restrictions on when protesters can use the venue unconstitutional.

The government condemned the protest, and said one security guard was injured during the clashes and sent to hospital.

“The government respects the right of citizens to express their opinion, but it also has to ensure the government headquarters is able to operate effectively and smoothly in a safe environment,” a spokesman said in a statement.

“The headquarters is a working place for government personnel and is never open to public assemblies or demonstrations.”

Demosisto claimed one of the male security guards sat on a female protester during the removal operation. A photo taken by Ho showed the scene of the alleged infraction, during which the protester was lying face down on the floor.


Category: Hong Kong

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