Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday the extradition bill that sparked the Chinese-ruled city’s biggest crisis in decades is dead and that government work on the legislation had been a “total failure”, but critics accused her of playing with words. The bill triggered outrage across broad sections of Hong Kong society amid concerns it would threaten the much-cherished rule of law that underpins the city’s international financial status.
China has accused protesters who vandalized Hong Kong’s parliament on Monday of “serious illegal actions” that “trample on the rule of law”. A group of activists occupied the Legislative Council (LegCo) building for several hours after breaking away from a peaceful protest. Hong Kong, a former British colony, is part of China but run under a “one country, two systems” arrangement that guarantees it a level of autonomy.
Hong Kong protesters stormed the Legislative Council on the anniversary of the city’s 1997 return to Chinese rule on Monday amid widespread anger over planned laws that would allow extraditions to China, plunging the city deeper into chaos. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam suspended the bill on June 15 after some of the largest and most violent protests in decades, but stopped short of protesters’ demands to scrap it.
Hong Kong’s embattled leader apologized Tuesday for an unpopular extradition bill that drew massive protests and indicated it will not be revived during the current legislative session. But Chief Executive Carrie Lam did not formally retract the legislation, which would allow some suspects to face trial in mainland Chinese courts. The bill ignited several massive protests, including a march by nearly 2 million people on Sunday and by as many as 1 million people a week earlier.
Prominent freedom campaigner Joshua Wong was released from prison Monday morning local time—a day after one of the largest street protests in Hong Kong’s history forced an apology from the city’s top official over a divisive extradition bill. Wong, 21, was completing a three month sentence for his role in the 2014 democracy protests known as the Umbrella Revolution. He thanked Hong Kong people for their support and called for the city’s embattled leader, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, to step down.
Hong Kong authorities were shutting government offices in the city’s financial district for the rest of the week after a day of violence over an extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial. Police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray in a series of skirmishes on Wednesday to clear demonstrators from the city’s legislature. It was some of the worst violence in Hong Kong since Britain handed it back to Chinese rule in 1997.
Protesters have blocked government headquarters in Hong Kong as they fight a law that would allow people to be sent to China for trial. The largely peaceful demonstration saw barriers overturned and many businesses closed in the area. The protests come three days after a rally that organizers said brought more than one million people onto the streets to condemn the proposed bill.
Police in Hong Kong say 240,000 people flooded the streets of the city on Sunday in a show of defiance against a government proposal that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China to face charges. Organizers of the protest say the turnout was more than 1 million. People carrying banners and signs objecting to the government-backed legislation marched and chanted “no extradition” through the city center. Many of the marchers wore white, a symbol of justice and mourning in Chinese culture.
Tens of thousands of people marched on Hong Kong’s parliament on Sunday to demand the scrapping of proposed extradition rules that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial – a move which some fear puts the city’s core freedoms at risk. Opponents of the proposal fear further erosion of rights and legal protections in the free-wheeling financial hub – freedoms which were guaranteed under the city’s handover from British colonial rule to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
Hong Kong voted, Wednesday, to end the domestic sale of ivory, planning to completely end the trade by 2021. The decision, called ‘a lifeline for elephants,’ closes a major loophole in the global effort to end trade, protecting elephants from poaching. Hong Kong joins China, where a similar ban was made earlier in the year.