Anti Extradition Bill Protest 2019. A reporter running for cover as tear gas canisters explode during clashes with protesters outside the Central Government Office in Hong Kong. (Image by Dave Coulson Photography / Shutterstock)

Anti-extradition Bill Hong Kongers to organise more protests this weekend

The movement against Hong Kong’s controversial extradition Bill is showing no signs of slowing down as protestors anticipate another round of protests on Fri (5 Jul) and Sun (7 Jul), barely three days after Hong Kong’s Legislative Council was swarmed and broken into by protestors on Mon (1 Jul).

The Straits Times‘ China Correspondent reported that a group called Hong Kong Mothers will be organising a protest at Chater Garden in Central tomorrow in support of young protestors who had been involved in the previous rallies.

The group said: “We will make our collective voices heard by those in power. It is time for them to cast off their aloof posturing and fulfill their obligation to protect and respect life. We will call for government actions to listen and respond to the demands of the young and other Hong Kongers.”

“Our hearts ache for the young protestors and we wish nothing more than to restore our society that is now being torn apart … Are we able to step out of our comfort zone, sit down and listen to the young, to understand their pain and struggles, and to look for a way forward together?” added Hong Kong Mothers.

The demonstration on Sun, on the other hand, will take place in the Tsim Sha Tsui area, starting at Salisbury Gardens, and ending at West Kowloon Railway Station, which connects the city to mainland China via high-speed rail trains, as the protestors aim to engage tourists from the mainland.

The organisers have urged those who wish to join the protests on Sun to be peaceful, rational and non-violent.

China Communist Party’s newspaper The People’s Daily earlier condemned the protests in Hong Kong, suggesting that they could potentially serve as a stain on the city’s reputation as a world-renowned financial and business hub.

Reuters reported that the editorial, published on Wed (3 Jul), dubbed the protests in the Special Administrative Region an “undisguised challenge” to China’s method of governing the Special Administrative Region, which rests upon the “one country, two systems” model.

“It is not surprising there are some disagreements and even major disputes about certain issues, but if we fall into the whirlpool of ‘overpoliticization’ and artificially create division and opposition, it will not only serve no purpose, but will also severely hinder economic and social development,” said The People’s Daily.

The daily added that Hong Kong “cannot bear turbulence and internal friction” in addition to the challenges posed against the city by a disruption in global markets as a result of rapid technological advancements and increased global competition.

The protests on Mon saw hundreds of protestors taking siege of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council building and breaking into the building, shortly following of the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China by the British in 1997.

While many protestors remained peaceful, even the Hong Kong emblem was not spared from being defaced by several protestors.

In the aftermath of the damage done to the LegCo, Hong Kong police have arrested around 13 people, including nine people specifically for their alleged involvement in activities related to the anti-extradition Bill protests, such as “doxxing” police officers, launching cyber attacks on police websites, and inciting others to commit damage against public property.

A 31-year-old man was also arrested for assaulting police officers, inflicting criminal damage, carrying out forcible entry into the LegCo and engaging in disorderly conduct in a public place on Mon, as well as relating to his involvement in one of the protests at the end of last month.

South China Morning Post reported that the suspect is known as “Occupy Mong Kok Painter” for his alleged participation in the 2014 Occupy Hong Kong movement for democracy.

Photographs of bricks, metal bars and shields stacked neatly outside the LegCo were posted on the police’s Facebook page on Wed, as the force firmly stated that it will “bring the culprits to justice for any unlawful acts”, having gathered forensic evidence such as fingerprints and DNA samples from the scene.

A source from law enforcement told SCMP that “[t]housands of pieces of evidence including helmets, face masks and iron bars have been collected from the Legco complex [on Tuesday and Wednesday]” by the police’s Organised Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB) and Identification Bureau alongside government forensic experts.

“Our experts will collect fingerprints from the evidence and carry out DNA tests on the evidence such as face masks,” the source added.

The protests that swept across Hong Kong in recent weeks arose out of concerns over the scope of powers that will be granted upon certain jurisdictions Hong Kong decides to extradite crime suspects to – particularly mainland China – should the extradition Bill be passed, as certain factions remain sceptical of Beijing’s capacity to refrain from abusing the extradition arrangements.

Foreign Policy predicts that while such protests are either ignored or condemned by the government, as seen in Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s response as well as that of the police force recently, “a large-scale general strike that gathers people from an array of different industries could be a third way to compel a constructive response from the authorities”.