Update: June 14, 6:15 a.m. EDT
The police’s use of force against protesters in Hong Kong has come under fire from the organizer of one of the rallies.
Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the organizer of the June 9 march in Hong Kong, has issued a statement on its Facebook page questioning the police’s use of force against protesters on June 12.
It said the type of rubber bullets used by the police were seemingly intended to cause injury rather than dispersing protesters. It was the first time since the city was handed over to China in 1997 that the police had fired rubber bullets at protesters.
CHRF also asked why police had apparently targeted protesters’ heads rather than their lower bodies, in contradiction to instructions given to police ahead of the protests. It added that this violated protocols with regard to the use of firearms.
CHRF claimed that police fired tear gas at protesters outside Hong Kong’s Civic Tower on June 12, despite a notice from police that they would not oppose protesters’ plans. CHRF say that none of the protesters at the time tried to charge at the police.
CHRF is calling for an independent committee to be set up to investigate the police’s actions on June 12.
Meanwhile, Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong said that doctors working at government-run hospitals had received a notice from the Hong Kong government requiring them to report how many days off they have had, according to RTHK.
Kwong said he was told that doctors are afraid that the notice will become evidence for the Hong Kong government to punish doctors who have participated in any activities supporting the protest.
Additionally, Kwong said that he had learned that some people had chosen not to go to the hospital after they inhaled tear gas.
The lawmaker said their fear might stem from police having secretly sent out plain-clothed officers to hospitals, something Kwong said violated patients’ privacy.
Pierre Chan, a lawmaker who represents the medical community and four doctors’ groups, issued a petition calling on the police not to arrest protesters inside hospitals, according to RTHK.
Hong Kong Police Commissioner Stephen Lo admitted that some arrests in connection to the June 12 protest were made at hospitals.
The petition stated that such police actions might discourage injured people from being treated at hospitals.
Update: June 14, 4:05 a.m. EDT
27 Former HK Officials Call On Leader Carrie Lam to Withdraw Extradition Bill
The pressure is mounting for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to scrap the controversial extradition bill, also known as the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Bill 2019.
In a joint statement, 27 former Hong Kong officials issued an “urgent appeal” to Lam to withdraw the bill, expressing how they were saddened by the current Hong Kong government’s insistence on “ramming” the law through the Legislative Council (LegCo), according to Hong Kong media RTHK.
Some of the better-known officials who signed the statement were Peter Lai, Secretary for Security from 1995 to 1998; Andrew Wong Wang-fat, president of LegCo from 1995 to 1997; and Anson Chan, Chief Secretary from 1997 to 2001.
Chan took part in the million-strong protest march on June 9, drawing record crowds to the streets of Hong Kong.
Speaking to reporters during the protest, Chan said that the bill would not only affect basic rights and freedom in Hong Kong, but “also affect business confidence in Hong Kong, especially how it would be a blow to Hong Kong’s image as a top financial center.”
“A deeply divided society, serious concerns of the international community—are these the sacrifices to be made to satisfy the will of the Chief Executive? What great public interest is supposed to be served by the hurried passage of this bill? Where will this escalation of police force to suppress protests lead Hong Kong?” Chan said in a statement.
The statement questioned how Lam could remain “unmoved” following the scenes of young people getting injured during altercations with the police on June 12 when tens of thousands protested outside government buildings in Admiralty.
“This is our future generations to be cherished. How can anyone with a heart not be pained to see the treatment they received?” the statement added.
It also called on Lam to “yield to the public opinion” and scrap the bill.
Update: June 14, 2:22 a.m. EDT
Planned ‘Three Suspensions Rally’ on June 17 Gaining Moment After Federation of Trade Unions Voices Support
The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), an independent union representing over 190,000 members in sectors such as construction, retail, education, social welfare, and property management, has announced that it will support a planned rally organized by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) for next Monday, June 17.
The announcement was made during a press conference on June 14 around 11 a.m. local time.
Yesterday, CHRF announced that it planned to hold a “three suspensions” rally, encouraging people to stop work, stop classes, and stop the markets on June 17. Additionally, it also planned to hold a large-scale march on the coming Sunday, June 16.
According to Hong Kong public radio broadcaster RTHK, HKCTU called on both employers and employees to join the rally.
It stated that workers could tell their employees that they are going to “fulfil their duties as citizens of this society” as a reason for joining the rally.
The federation called on employers to grant time off to their workers without penalizing them for their absence.
“This time, it’s a historical situation between the Hong Kong society that align the employers and employees to act together to fight against this extradition law. So I strongly appeal to all the employers, do not give any hard time or disadvantages to any employees who participate in this,” urged Carol Ng, chairman of HKCTU, according to RTHK.
Ng added that it was time for grown-ups to support the many youngsters who have already been taking to the streets en masse in the protest of the government’s extradition bill.
Update: June 13, 11:09 p.m. EDT
Hong Kong Students on Their Knees Urging for ‘Three Suspensions’
Hong Kong students have taken a different approach to garner more public support for the protest against the proposed extradition bill.
On June 14, Demosisto, a pro-democracy political party, posted a video on its Facebook page showing 7 of its members—all students—on their knees at Mei Foo MRT Station with one speaking into a loudspeaker.
Demosisto was established in 2016, and currently its secretary general is Joshua Wong, the well-known Hong Kong student activist who took part in the Umbrella Movement in 2014.
In 2014, protesters called for universal suffrage camped out on the streets of Hong Kong’s main business district in Central for about 3 months. The movement ended without protesters’ demands being met, while several of its main organizers have since been jailed, including Wong.
The students urged for public support of “three suspensions,” to stop work, stop classes, and stop the markets.
In the video, it could be seen that the students eventually left after they were approached by MRT officials and police officers.
Many businesses and groups in Hong Kong have already voluntarily shutdown in support of the protest.
Photos of the Mei Foo station protest have since been shared on Twitter.
Photo from #HongKong media commentator Siuto Poon: Student’s now kneeling to beg the public to keep up the resistance. Poon said on Facebook he cried witnessing this scene. I cried just looking at this photo. OUR YOUTHS ARE NOT RIOTERS.#ExtraditionBill pic.twitter.com/yYFheMPnt7
— Kevin Yam (@kevinkfyam) June 14, 2019
The action of the seven students could be a sign that student protesters might take stronger actions in the days to come, after Hong Kong media reported that police officers arrest two students who took part in the June 12 protest from their school dormitory at the University of Hong Kong in the evening on June 13.
According to RTHK, Assistant Professor YL Fung, who is also the head of the dormitory, confirmed the arrest and said that the two students could soon post bail.
Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung, who arrived at university in the evening on June 13 after learning about the arrest, said the police officers did not search the school before arresting the two students, according to RTHK.
Meanwhile, Civil Human Rights Front, the organizer of the June 9 march, posted on its Facebook page a gathering for “Hong Kong mothers” who support the anti-extradition protests. The gathering, which is taking issue with Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s statement of being a firm mother for Hong Kong’s “spoilt” youth, will be held at either Chater Garden or Statue Square at 7 p.m. local time in Hong Kong on Friday, June 14.
The event called for both mothers and fathers who support the protests to show Hong Kong’s youngsters that they are not alone in their call for Lam to scrap the extradition bill.
Update: June 13, 6:30 p.m. EDT
11 Hong Kong Protesters Arrested for ‘Riot Related Offenses’
Hong Kong police chief Stephen Lo said police have arrested 11 protesters so far after a series of clashes between the two sides on June 12.
In a press conference on June 13, Lo called the demonstration outside the city’s legislature a “riot.” He said the protest was peaceful until 3 p.m. local time, when bricks, metal poles, and wood were thrown at police, forcing them to drive protesters away with rubber bullets and tear gas, Hong Kong media RTHK reported.
Over 150 rounds of tear gas, 20 bean bags, and multiple rubber bullets were fired by the police in a “restrained and tolerant” manner, said Lo. Some rubber bullets hit protesters on the head, he added.
Joseph Wong, a former secretary of Hong Kong’s civil service, disputed Lo’s account of the protester’s actions, saying the police shot at protesters like they were “hunting prey,” according to RTHK.
“I see some of the protesters digging up bricks on the ground, but I have not seen them being used [as weapons]. I see those iron rods on display, I’ve not seen them being used either,” Wong told the outlet.
“We should keep a balance and not just blame everything on the protesters and label them as rioters,” Wong said.
The city’s hospital authority said a total of 81 people were injured in the protests.
Journalists who attended the Wednesday press conference wore high visibility vests and helmet as a sign of protest over the police’s rough treatment of reporters. The Hong Kong Journalists Association earlier condemned police for “totally ignoring the safety of journalists and severely trampling on their right to reporting.”
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council on June 13 issued a travel alert advising its nationals to be mindful of personal safety when traveling to Hong Kong in case of further protests.
Update: June 13, 7:50 a.m EDT
Hong Kong Legislative Council Delays Debate on Extradition Bill For Third Day
Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) has just canceled its full council meeting for Friday, June 14.
The cancellation was announced by Andrew Leung, the pro-Beijing head of LegCo, in a council press release.
The announcement stated, “the Council meeting of June 12, 2019, will not be held tomorrow (June 14).” It added that Leung will make another announcement after he decides the time of a replacement meeting.
Update: June 13, 6:50 a.m EDT
Hong Kong Protest Organizer Planning Another Protest
The organizer of the June 9 protest that drew over a million people to the streets in Hong Kong is planning to hold another march on Sunday, June 16.
The Civil Human Rights Front announced their intentions in a Facebook post on June 13.
The application also includes holding a rally for what they’re called the “three suspensions,” encouraging people to stop work, stop classes, and stop the markets next Monday, June 17.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Bar Association (HKBA), a professional organization of barristers, became the latest in the special administrative region to voice condemnation against the use of force by the local police against protesters on June 12.
In a statement on its website, HKBA wrote that it had “grave concern” over how the police “appeared to have acted in disregard of the safety and well-being of protesters and frontline journalists covering the protest.”
These police actions include the “deployment of wholly unnecessary force against largely unarmed protesters who did not appear to pose any immediate threat to the police or the public at large.”
The statement added that the police may have “overstepped its lawful powers in maintaining public order.”
HKBA also called on the Hong Kong government to “engage in dialogue with the community and reconsider its stance” toward the extradition bill.
Yesterday, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) issued a statement condemning the police for “totally ignoring the safety of journalists and severely trampling on their right to reporting,“ according to Hong Kong Free Press.
Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam, writing on his Facebook page, stated that he has demanded an emergency question-and-answer legislative session with the Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu.
Tam stated that one of the questions he wanted to ask was who authorized the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters on June 12.
Update: June 13, 4:30 a.m EDT
Public Outrage Against Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam Growing by the Minute
Calls for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to delay a legislative council debate on the controversial extradition bill intensified on June 13 when 66 current and former directors of Hong Kong’s social service agencies submitted a joint statement calling for Lam to begin public consultation over the matter, according to a press release by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, a federation of non-governmental agencies.
“The current situation is dire. Everyone who loves Hong Kong and cherishes our next generation is worried,” the statement read. “As a result, we are making a call, that is we are hoping that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to make a switch decision, which is postponing the [legislative] process on the extradition bill, and initiative in-depth public consultation.”
Meanwhile, Joseph Wong, former secretary of Hong Kong’s Civil Service, denounced local police for opening fire on protestors during a confrontation on June 12 when some protesters tried to cross the police line close to the entrance of the legislative council. Wong equated the police response to that of “hunting prey” in an interview with Hong Kong public radio broadcaster RTHK.
“I see policemen aiming at protesters and firing [rubber] bullets, and I saw young people being hit on the head,” Wong said. “We should keep a balance and not just blame everything on the protesters and label them as ‘rioters.’”
Police and civilians were injured in the altercation.
Earlier, Lam had called the protests “organized riots.”
Wong said, “This has never happened before in Hong Kong. It is very sad for Hong Kong to have a chief executive in Carrie Lam.”
Overnight after most of the crowd had dispersed, some students were seen taking up the civic duty of cleaning the streets where items had been left following the chaos just hours earlier.
2am in the morning, young Hong Kong protesters volunteering to pick up the trash after all the chaos.
— Denise Ho (HOCC) (@hoccgoomusic) June 12, 2019
Hong Kong singer Denise Ho shared a video on Twitter, saying how proud she was that Hong Kong people were volunteering to pick up trash at 2 a.m.
The cleaning continued into the morning on June 13.
RTHK reported that 21-year-old university student Cherry Chen, who took part in the protest on June 12, and her friends were cleaning outside of the Hong Kong government headquarters on June 13.
“I am just trying to fulfill my civic responsibility,” Chan said. “We have to clean up all the rubbish and rebuild the area and not increase the burden on workers.”
Update: June 13, 3:25 a.m EDT
Two Protesters Arrested on “Rioting” Charges
According to an exclusive report from South China Morning Post, there have now been two arrests confirmed from the June 12 protests for rioting.
Police had arrested 19 protesters in the early hours of the morning on June 10 following the June 9 march.
The individuals were arrested at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kowloon where they had presented themselves to medical staff for injuries sustained during the clash with police.
Exclusive: At least two protestors were arrested on Wed for rioting, the Post has learned. Both arrests were made after police chef Stephen Lo Wai-chung denounced the clashes as riot on Wed PM, per legal source.
The pair were not arrested near Legco nor Govt HQ, but in hospital.
— Alvin L (@alvinllum) June 13, 2019
News of the arrests came after Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai Chung called the altercations between protesters and police on Wednesday afternoon a “riot.”
Update: June 13, 12:33 a.m EDT
Hong Kong Legislative Council Delays Debate on Extradition Bill For Second Day
Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) has just canceled its full council meeting for Thursday, June 13, after protesters gathered for a second day around the LegCo building in Admiralty to protest the government’s extradition bill.
Hong Kong media reported that a few thousand people had gathered on roads near the LegCo building in anticipation of the legislative session.
The cancellation was announced by Andrew Leung, the pro-Beijing head of LegCo, in a council press release.
The announcement stated, “the Council meeting of June 12, 2019, will not be held today (June 13).” It added that Leung will make another announcement after he decides the time of a replacement meeting.
Some protesters at Tamar Park, which is located next to the council building, packed up and left upon hearing that the debate was postponed.
Prior to the LegCo’s cancellation announcement, several lawmakers of the pan-democracy camp held a press conference condemning how Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam had called the protests “organized riots,” according to Hong Kong radio broadcaster 881903.com.
Hu Chi-wai, the current chairman of the Democratic Party, said Lam’s remarks reminded him of what happened in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1989.
Leung Yiu-chung, a member of the pro-democracy Neighborhood and Worker’s Service Center and part of the pan-democracy camp, spoke of an incidence during the June 12 protests, when unnamed police officers snatched saline water away from the hands of EMT personnel, preventing the medical staff from providing care to protestors. Leung Yiu-chung called such police action “inhumane.”
One day earlier, tens of thousands of people had joined another peaceful mass protest outside the council building, hoping to make a final plea with lawmakers to drop the bill before its second reading in the council, which is controlled by a pro-Beijing majority.
A bout of violence broke out hours into the protest around 3 p.m. local time, when local police began using pepper spray to stop protestors charging across police lines outside the LegCo building. Some protesters were also throwing plastic bottles at police.
According to onsite reporters from the Hong Kong bureau of The Epoch Times, Lam Cheuk-ting, a Democratic Party politician who was at the scene, was hit by police with pepper spray.
Police then fired rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators.
Around 4:20 p.m. local time, Hong Kong Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai Chung confirmed that the police had used tear gas, rubber bullets, and bean bags in an attempt to clear protesters around Admiralty where the government buildings are located, according to Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP).
Chung told a press conference, “We had no choice but to use weapons to stop these protesters from barging at our defence lines.”
The number of people injured, including police officers, on June 12 increased from 72 to 79, according to Hong Kong’s public radio broadcaster RTHK. Their ages range from 15 to 66.
Currently, two of the injured are in critical condition at the Queen Mary Hospital. Another 64 have been discharged from various hospitals.