Hong Kong: Anti-extradition protesters block government HQ | World News

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Protesters have surrounded government headquarters in Hong Kong as they fight a law that would allow people to be sent to China for trial.

Hundreds of people, most of them young, overturned barriers as they tried to enter the building and the offices of the Legislative Council.

The protests prompted some businesses in the area to close for the day and the legislative session on the bill was postponed indefinitely after entrances to the buildings were blocked.

One 18-year-old protester, who only gave her first name – Jacky – said: “We’re young but we know that if we don’t stand up for our rights, we might lose them.”

It comes three days after a rally that organisers said brought more than one million people onto the streets to condemn the proposed bill.

Police outside the Hong Kong government building
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Police are lined up outside the Hong Kong government building

Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam has vowed to press ahead with the legislation, despite concerns it could leave residents exposed to human rights abuses.

Ms Lam has insisted that extradition cases would be decided by Hong Kong courts and that, without the changes, Hong Kong could become a haven for criminals evading justice.

The former British colony was handed back to Chinese rule in 1997 with guarantees of autonomy and freedoms, including a separate legal system.

But many fear that Hong Kong residents sent to China could face ambiguous national security charges and will not be given a fair trial.

China – where courts are controlled by the Communist Party – has been accused of using torture, arbitrary detentions and forced confessions.

Several senior Hong Kong lawyers have also raised concerns, highlighting a lack of trust in the mainland courts.

Hong Kong Bar Association chairman Philip Dykes said: “The government is asking these people with decades of mistrust suddenly to trust the system and to accept assurances that the [Chinese] mainland will offer that they be honoured – and that’s clearly not persuading the people.”

But government officials insist there are adequate safeguards and that nobody will be extradited to face political or religious persecution or torture, or the death penalty.

Protesters occupy Harcourt Road near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 12, 2019
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Protesters are occupying a road near the government headquarters in Hong Kong

Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a lawyer and member of Ms Lam’s administration advisory committee, warned that Beijing’s patience for Hong Kong was limited.

He said: “We need to gain the trust and confidence of Beijing so they can allow us the freedom of political reform.

“They don’t want to see Hong Kong as a base of subversion. And I’m sorry – we’re doing exactly that.”

Protesters try to tear down police barricades
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Protesters say the bill would leave Hong Kong residents exposed to human rights abuses

The legislature’s president, Andrew Leung, has scheduled a vote on the extradition law for 20 June, although it is not clear if this date would also be postponed.



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