Over the past few days, more than one million people have packed the streets of Hong Kong in protest of a new extradition bill. As the June 12 debate over the bill approaches, millions flocked to the streets and created the biggest demonstration in the country since 1997. Many claim the bill would affect their civil liberties and Hong Kong’s autonomy.
What are the Hong Kong protests are about?
Hong Kong residents turned out against the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019.
If passed into law the bill would allow Hong Kong authorities to extradite fugitives to territories where it doesn’t currently have extradition deals.
These areas include Macau, Taiwan and most importantly mainland China.
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Lawmakers also said they have not written in a guarantee for a fair trial into the bill.
Critics argue the bill would allow Chinese authorities to extradite anyone from Hong Kong on business offences or political reasons.
This would undermine the semi-autonomous legal system the territory was afforded when it was handed back to China from the UK in 1997.
Protest organisers Demosisto said some 1.3 million people took to the streets of Hong Kong, more than one-seventh of the city’s total population.
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Demonstrators clad in white gathered at Victoria Park, central Hong Kong, before parading on a 1.86-mile route to the Legislative Council in the Admiralty business district.
Initially peaceful, Sunday’s protests saw resolute crowds wave placards and chant slogans on their route.
Hong Kong city police sad five to six men in masks broke off from the main group and planned to occupy a main road.
Police met the protesters with pepper spray and urged others to disperse the area.
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Overnight protests turned violent, as physical scuffles broke out and police cleared protesters with batons.
Demonstrations ended at 10.30pm local time (5.30pm BST), with no change in the government stance.
Hong Kong authorities said they recognised the protests but reiterated the bill is up for debate on June 12.
Ivan Wong, an 18-year-old student in Hong Kong, said: “The people’s voices are not being heard.”