Hong Kong, June 13 (IANS) The Hong Kong Legislative Council on Thursday postponed for a second consecutive day, a session in which the second reading of the highly contentious extradition bill was expected to be held.
“The President of the Legislative Council has decided that the Council meeting will not be held today (Thursday). Announcement will be made once the President determines the time of the meeting,” LegCo said in a statement on its website.
This announcement comes after tens of thousands of people showed up outside the headquarters of the Hong Kong legislature on Wednesday demanding the withdrawal of the extradition bill, reports Efe news.
The huge protests were finally dispersed by the police using batons, tear gas and rubber bullets with 72 left wounded, including two in critical condition.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the protesters attacked police by throwing bricks and using iron bars in what she considered to be a blatant, organised riot.
Hong Kong government offices will remain closed on Thursday and Friday due to security concerns, and the Admiralty Metro Station – closest to the government headquarters – will not be operational on Thursday.
In addition, several streets in the area remain cut off by police, and a nearby shopping mall has announced it will be closed Thursday.
The proposed law has run into opposition across a broad social spectrum from students to entrepreneurs who have expressed concern about the risk that Hong Kong residents accused of crimes could be extradited to mainland China, owing to the lack of real separation of powers or control mechanisms.
The Hong Kong government insisted that the bill attempts to amend a loophole, that several safeguards have been included, and that local courts would review cases individually and can use veto power to prevent certain extraditions.
However, opponents also fear that under the new law, local activists, journalists critical of China and Chinese dissidents residing in Hong Kong may also be sent to the mainland to be tried.