Extradition bill: HK protesters besiege police, government HQ

Extradition bill: HK protesters besiege police, government HQ

Hong Kong, June 21 (IANS) Thousands of protesters flocked to the Hong Kong Parliament on Friday, blocking roads around the government complex before surrounding police headquarters, a day after authorities ignored a deadline set by students demanding the region’s leader to completely scrap a contentious extradition bill.

Representatives of opposition movements in Hong Kong had issued the ultimatum to Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Several student groups vowed to escalate protests if authorities did not answer to their demands by 5 p.m. on Thursday.

On Friday, the protesters arrived at the Legislative Council (LegCo) complex, or government headquarters, accompanied by opposition lawmakers and also demanded the release of all those detained to date as well as an investigation into police actions during the earlier protests, reported Hong Kong Free Press.

The bill, which allows extradition to mainland China, has already been suspended. Critics say it would erode the judicial independence of Hong Kong. According to human rights organizations, it would allow activists, non-profit workers and journalists to be tried in the Mainland’s judicial system which offers no guarantees.

Later in the day, the protesters moved to surround police headquarters. Among the protesters was student activist Joshua Wong, who became the face of pro-democracy protests in 2014. He was freed earlier this week after being jailed in May on contempt charges related to the 2014 demonstrations.

Some of the demonstrators gathered in the front of the Parliament carrying placards asking the police not to fire in reference to the violence that broke out between police officials and protesters last week.

Other groups of protesters congregated outside the offices of the Chinese government located nearby and in the adjacent Tamar Park, while the police cordoned off access to the local headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army.

Some protesters also moved to Hong Kong’s Revenue Tower.

Organizers also made a call on social media for protests on roads and public transport and urged people to gather in other parts of the city to show their support.

On Tuesday, Lam at a press conference offered her “most sincere apology to all people of Hong Kong” and asked its citizens to give her another opportunity so that her government could rebuild trust.

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