Hong Kong police wrested back control of the city's streets overnight, and appear determined to prevent any further demonstrations by people angry over the government's extradition bill Photo: AFP
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Pressure grows on Hong Kong over extradition bill

18 Comments
By Helen ROXBURGH

Hong Kong was facing international pressure Thursday over a divisive extradition bill that sparked violent protests, as a top legal body said police tactics to clear demonstrators may have been unlawful.

Police used rubber bullets and tear gas to break up crowds Wednesday after demonstrators -- angry over legislation they say would leave people vulnerable to China's politicised justice system -- blocked roads and brought the city to a standstill.

The European Union called for the "fundamental right" of Hong Kongers to assemble and express themselves to be respected as it became the latest grouping to add its voice to a growing chorus of criticism of the bill.

The EU "shares many of the concerns raised by citizens of Hong Kong regarding the government's proposed extradition reforms", it said.

The bloc said the proposed law had "potentially far-reaching consequences for Hong Kong and its people, for EU and foreign citizens, as well as for business confidence in Hong Kong".

Demonstrators who surrounded the city's Legislative Council -- its government -- on Wednesday forced a postponement of the next reading of the bill.

But Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam has shown no signs of backing down, and said the protests were "organised riots".

Wednesday's violence left 79 people hurt, with two in a serious condition, in the worst political unrest since Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997.

Although most of the protesters appeared to have melted away Thursday, a defiant group of a few hundred gathered in a central park and chanted abuse at a line of police.

As police started to pack away some of the barricades, some young people returned to help clear up the mess, with umbrellas, water bottles and assorted rubbish littering the streets where protesters had squared off against police the day before.

Activists remained vocal on social media and online groups, however, vowing to be back for more protests in the future.

The police have faced criticism from a range of influential bodies including lawmakers, journalists and legal groups, with calls for an independent inquiry into "excessive force" from one legal committee.

The Hong Kong Bar Association said the police "may well have overstepped its lawful powers" with "wholly unnecessary force against largely unarmed protesters who did not appear to pose any immediate threat to the police or the public".

Tensions remained high across the city on Thursday, with some small scuffles between protesters and police and several hundred demonstrators gathering in a central park and facing off against a line of police.

Students, democracy campaigners, religious groups and business representatives in the semi-autonomous territory have spoken out against the extradition bill.

The government says it is necessary to fix a loophole that prevents Hong Kong from sending criminal suspects back to jurisdictions they have fled -- including to mainland China.

But opponents say it would be abused by an increasingly assertive Beijing to pursue its political enemies and to ensnare dissidents in an opaque and politically motivated justice system.

The international community has also voiced concern.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was vital the proposed law did not breach the Sino-British Joint Declaration signed in 1984 setting out the terms of the city’s return to China.

Speaking in parliament, she said her government was concerned about the "potential effects of these proposals particularly, obviously given the large number of British citizens there are in Hong Kong".

U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters in Washington he could "understand the reason for the demonstration" and said he hoped "it all works out for China and for Hong Kong".

After forcefully clearing the streets on Wednesday night, police appeared determined to keep control of the business hub.

Authorities closed several major roads on Thursday morning, but a major underground rail station -- an interchange for several key lines -- was later reopened.

The adjacent high-end Pacific Place shopping mall was also closed, and staff working in the central government administrative building were told the offices would be closed Thursday and Friday.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

18 Comments
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Since HK was handed back, there have been loads of laws passed without anyone batting an eyelid. Is it a coincidence that Trump is on a downer with China and suddenly there are violent protests on the streets.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

There have undoubtedly been many, but there was resistance over that Interpretation business, the Article 23 fap, the failure to get universal suffrage ... etc. I don't think it is correct to imply it won't have happened without Trump.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Ironic. China doesn't even need the law. If it wants to snatch a person in any country, it will. I suppose this is just for efficiency.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

But Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam has shown no signs of backing down, and said the protests were "organised riots".

Excuses, excuses. The organised riots were probably organised by Lam's own government using provocateurs to justify the crack down on an otherwise peaceful demonstration. Why would anyone trust what a pro-Beijing lunatic says when the ChiComs worship the ground Mao Zedong walked upon.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

If Chief Executive use military power to suppress this protest, foreign investors will withdraw funds and run away from stock exchanges in Hong Kong and Beijing. China's financial markets will cool at once.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

This issue is extremely important not just for HK but for the world. I am glad to see there is some comments internationally and hope this is also discussed at the G20 meeting in Osaka.

There will be a mass exit for those who can.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I don't thin k HK is under pressure, more China is under pressure.  Not like this law was originally thought up in HK.  Tactics used by police show exactly who is giving the orders.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Police injuring protesters?

So, this is the function of the guardians of the people in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong will soon become a ghost city if this continues!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Why did the protestors obstructing the legislators into the council to debate about the law?  If they think they have better argument against the extradiction law they should have let the people's legislators to debate and vote for this law! They assaulted the police officers and blocking the traffics, is this democrac?  This is no more a demonstration of free expression! 

THIS IS A STAGED COUP! The Hong Kong government and police has done nothing wrong!

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

I'm with the protesters all the way. Should they just sit back and do nothing while China continues to erode democracy?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

If this is an example of Chinese brotherly beneficence, no wonder Taiwan wants nothing to do with them.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Get out while you can. China may soon control departures from Hong Kong. Don't wait until they "build the Berlin wall". Rebuild in Taiwan, Singapore, etc.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

(Cont'd)

The US, Canada, EU, Russia, will not guarantee your independence by show of force (stationing of troops, carrier group offshore, etc). They'll just urge China to respect it's agreement.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good thing that China decided to DDoS the encrypted Telegram communications app used by protesters.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/13/18677282/telegram-ddos-attack-china-hong-kong-protest-pavel-durov-state-actor-sized-cyberattack

IP addresses coming mostly from China. Historically, all state actor-sized DDoS (200-400 Gb/s of junk) we experienced coincided in time with protests in Hong Kong (coordinated on @telegram). This case was not an exception. - Pavel Durov (@durov) June 12, 2019

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wasn't there a president upon a time in Amerika that thought this Hong Kong/China thing was a good idea.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This law does not just affect HKers. Any traveler or foreigner in HK can be arrested based on just a correctly filled in paper form and be sent to China. That's part of the reasons why so many countries are worrying about this. Unlike many democratic and civilized society police cannot indefinitely detain a person without laying charges. In China, they can detain you forever without laying charges. Also, people will be devour from visit by lawyers or family members (only allow when the authority feels like it).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I can tell you China will roll over the protesters with tanks.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The next step to watch is for Foreign Banks to pull out of HK. Once that starts... there will be a huge number of HK folks heading to the UK and the Finance Industry will go where ? Singapore ? Surely not Malaysia or Indonesia... so ... perhaps ... to... Tokyo ? Tokyo has lots of nice new High-rises within the Financial district just waiting. I wonder.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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