Thousands of Hong Kong protesters have opted to surround the police headquarters calling for an extradition bill to be scrapped off.This is despite the police asking them to withdraw peacefully since their action is set to affect emergency services. Over the last couple of days, millions of people have matched against the bill with some even going to the extent of engaging in violent clashes with the police. The bill that allows extradition to mainland China has already been suspended even before the second reading could take place.
Since 1997, Hong Kong has been part of China under the “one country, two systems” principle, that allows its freedoms not to be seen in mainland China. Today’s protests comes a day after the government failed to honor the deadline that was set by a group of students from different universities in Hong Kong. The students had demanded for the bill to be scrapped off completely. On Friday morning, people had gathered outside the Legislative Council Complex (government headquarters) but eventually opted to surround the police headquarters.
Among the protesters is one Joshua Wong, a student activist, who was the face of pro-democracy protests in 2014. Joshua was released at the start of this week after being jailed in May on contempt charges that were related to the 2014 demonstrations.
What the Recent Protests Signify
Protesters decision to gather outside the police headquarters tells that many of them have now changed tune and are no longer focused on the resignation of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam. Instead, they have put their concentration on a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill. So far the protests have not turned that violent with some protesters throwing eggs to the uniformed police officers. However, the protesters did not hide their anger at police officers as they chanted “evil police” and “release them.” They even went ahead to try blocking some entrances using steel barriers.
Whatexactly is the Extradition Bill?
The mass protests taking place in Hong Kong are as a result of the extradition bill that allow suspects accused of wrongdoing to be extradited to mainland China. This is important since Hong Kong has its own judicial independence, economic and legislature system despite being part of China. To most protesters, the extradition bill is meant to erode their judicial independence thus bringing Hong Kong under the control of China. Throughout the protests, China has been backing Ms.Lam and the extradition bill.
What the Hong Kong Government Said
Initially, Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong leader, remained defiant and said the government had no intention of withdrawing the bill. However, the mounting protests and violent clashes made her change tune as she announced the suspension of the bill. She even went ahead to issue an apology saying the bill would not be brought back until people’s fears were addressed. Despite the change of tune, protesters have not stopped taking to the streets asking for the bill to be scrapped off.