Today, hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers are expected to join a protest march against a law which would allow Beijing to take whoever they want - mainland citizen or not - from Hong Kong to face trial on the mainland.
The march has been organised by the Civil Human Rights Front, which has asked marchers to wear white tops to show their support. People will start gathering on the Central Lawn at Victoria Park around 2.30pm and the march is expect to start around 3pm and end at Legco.
The law is being strongly opposed by people from all walks of life, from students, to housewives, to professors, who fear this will be the final change that sees Hong Kong lose all of the freedoms it enjoys now - freedom of speech, of press, of religion and of association.
The mainland’s legal system is very different from Hong Kong’s. It still supports the death penalty. Often trials are held in secret and lawyers representing the accused are harassed or even put on trial themselves.
“All they need is a witness statement saying you committed some crime 20 years ago,” Martin Lee QC, a barrister, former legislator and leading pro-democracy figure told The Guardian. “That is enough, and then you’ll be tried according to Chinese law in a Chinese court. And who can trust that system?”
Hong Kong, under the “one country two systems” agreement, is meant to rule itself until 2017.
But the Pro-Beijing group say Hong Kong has nothing to fear but fear itself. Regina Ip, a legislator and cabinet member, and a former secretary of security, says the bill is intended to fight crime across borders, and that mainland China is Hong Kong’s most important crime-fighting partner because of high cross-border traffic by offenders.
Ip is adamant that the international outcry and the protest on Sunday – no matter how big – will have no impact. “If you cave in because of mass protest, that will encourage people to organise more protests on all sorts of China-sensitive issues,” she says.
Alumni, students, and staff from 358 secondary schools in Hong Kong have signed joint petitions against the proposed law earlier.
Alumni and students from at least nine local school secondary schools have set up public Facebook events to gather their alumni, schoolmates and staff to attend the march today. They include CCC Chuen Yuen College, Sacred Heart Canossian College and St. Paul’s Convent School, and they will gather at Fire Dragon Path and Victoria Park at 2.30pm.
The last protest organised by Civil Human Rights Front was held on April 28 was joined by 130,000 people, while police estimated the turnout at its peak was 22,800.
Young Post will be covering the march today live on Instagram.