Published on : Thursday, June 13, 2019
Hong Kong witnessed worst violence in the city since decades as protestors and police locked horns. The protesters are venting anger about plans to allow extradition to mainland China. Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) delayed a second reading of the controversial extradition bill, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday.
In an attempt to prevent lawmakers from participating in the debate, activists in the tens of thousands blockaded key streets around the government headquarters in central Hong Kong. Police donned the riot gear.
As the protesters tried to storm key government buildings demanding the bill to be scrapped, the police responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets to block them and get them to disperse. After hours of chaos, the crowd eventually dissipated overnight.
The police were accused by Rights group Human Rights Watch of using ‘excessive force’ against protesters. Seventy-two people aged between 15 and 66 were injured in the violence, including two men who were in critical condition.
There were only a few protesters in the central business district in the city on Thursday morning. Some roads and a downtown shopping mall still remain closed. Admiralty station – the station at the heart of the protest zone – would remain closed today following a police request.
Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841 until sovereignty was returned to China in 1997.
It is now part of China under a “one country, two systems” principle, which ensures that it keeps its own judicial independence, its own legislature and economic system.
People in Hong Kong worry that if the extradition bill pass, it would bring Hong Kong more decisively under China’s control.
Hong Kong has entered into extradition agreements with 20 countries, including the UK and the US, but an agreement with China has never been reached.
The government of Carrie Lam has proposed amendments to the extradition laws that would allow extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau for suspects accused of criminal wrongdoing such as murder and rape.
Hong Kong’s tourism board has canceled the planned Dragon Boat Festival, and private cars were being used to block intersections in Central.
Civil unrest has spilled into major commercial districts of the semi-autonomous city, but remaining areas remain normal.