More than 130,000 people showed up on the streets of Hong Kong on April 28 to oppose proposed amendments to the city’s extradition laws that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China—far greater than the expected turnout of 12,000.
Police gave a much more conservative estimate, saying that at the parade’s peak, 22,800 people attended. But The Epoch Times’ Hong Kong reporters saw many people continually joining in the parade as the crowd made its way through the city.
Currently, Hong Kong has signed individual extradition agreement with 20 countries, including the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
The newly proposed extradition laws, first announced in February, would allow criminal suspects from any region—including mainland China—to seek extradition without the city’s unicameral legislature, the Legislative Council (LegCo), signing off on the requests. The city’s head of government, the chief executive, would be able to approve the extradition requests directly.
Hong Kong residents, business groups, and international rights groups have expressed concerns that, given the Chinese regime’s disregard for rule of law, the changes could allow Beijing to charge and extradite its critics with impunity.
This weekend’s parade follows a March 31 protest that drew about 12,000.
Parade organizer Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), a Hong Kong pro-democracy group, vowed to organize more activities until the Hong Kong government shelves the proposals.
The parade began in late afternoon on Saturday, snaking its way from Causeway Bay to the Central Government Complex, the headquarters of the Hong Kong government at Admiralty.
LegCo members, democracy group activists, celebrities, and ordinary citizens participated.
At the front of the parade was a a big square banner that read: “Oppose the extradition of suspects to mainland China, oppose the evil law, reverse the amendments on Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.”
Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, Hong Kong political scientist and former professor at the City University of Hong Kong told the Chinese-language Epoch Times that he was concerned the amendments would erode the legal process in Hong Kong, a city that has enjoyed relative autonomy as a former British colony. “Once the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance is passed, each of us may be extradited to mainland China for trial… We won’t have the basic right to a fair trial at that time,” he said.
Many held signs that called for the current Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, to resign.
People also held yellow umbrellas, a symbol that came to represent the Umbrella Movement of 2014, when scores of Hong Kongers occupied the streets of the city’s main financial district to call for universal suffrage in how the city votes for the chief executive. The protest lasted 79 days.
This past week, a Hong Kong court jailed four leaders in the Umbrella Movement—concluding a month-long trial that sentenced a total of nine activists who were involved in the 2014 protests.
Parade attendees carried the umbrellas to express solidarity with the activists.
Ching Cheong, a senior Hong Kong journalist, told the Chinese-language Epoch Times he was concerned about the implications for media critical of the Chinese regime, as well as the entire city’s populace. “I want to emphasize that this law is not only targeted at the news industry, but everybody in Hong Kong.”
Cheong noted that with the Chinese regime’s influence already threatening freedom of speech in Hong Kong, he worries that the extradition law will have a even more chilling effect on media in Hong Kong.
“Many innocent people will be given a guilty sentence,” said Anthony Wong Yiu Ming, a Hong Kong singer. He is worried that “Hong Kong will have many political prisoners” if the extradition amendments allow the Chinese regime to ensnare its critics.
Denise Ho Wan-see, also a singer and outspoken supporter of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy efforts urged Hong Kongers to use their “freedoms to fight for our fundamental wish [autonomy].”
From The Epoch Times