Hong Kong extradition bill: Protesters swarm justice minister's office after 24 hours of demonstrations

Hong Kong extradition bill: Protesters swarm justice minister's office after 24 hours of demonstrations

After another overnight siege of police headquarters, protesters are demanding justice minister Teresa Cheng withdraw the suspended bill


Demosisto leader Joshua Wong attends the rally outside the Department of Justice today to pressure authorities not to prosecute protesters.
Photo: EPA

Protesters gathered outside the office of Hong Kong's justice minister Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah this morning, demanding that she withdraw the suspended extradition bill. This followed a night of protest that saw tens of thousands of people gathered in Edinburgh Place from 8pm last night to bring world attention to the issue. That rally was followed by a six-hour siege of police headquarters which ended around 4am this morning.

Yesterday morning about 1,500 dedicated couriers  and opponents of the legislation delivered letters to local G20 consulates urging global intervention.

At Edinburgh Place last night, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, 25, a former lawmaker of the Demosisto party, said in a speech that Hongkongers wanted the international community to take notice of Beijing’s infringement on their freedoms.

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“As part of the free world, we stand united against China’s communist regime,” he said.

Earlier this month, Britain urged the Hong Kong government to pause and reflect on the extradition bill. It also banned sales of crowd control equipment to Hong Kong, and urged the government to look into allegations of police brutality. China was not amused, and told Britain to stop interfering in China's internal affairs.

Yesterday, a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which laid out how Britain would end its rule over Hong Kong before it was handed back to China in 1997 and which guaranteed the city’s rights and freedoms, still applied, Reuters reported.

“The Joint Declaration is a legally binding treaty between Britain and China that remains as valid today as it was when it was signed and ratified over 30 years ago,” she added. “As a co-signatory, the British government will continue to defend our position.” 

At about 10.30am today, protesters marched up Garden Road in the direction of Lower Albert Road to join a dozen others gathered outside the east wing of Justice Place, home to the offices of Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng and her department.

Mostly wearing masks and dressed in black, the protesters effectively cut off one lane of Lower Albert Road. A number of them volunteered to direct traffic and keep it flowing in both directions.

The protesters demanded the government meet four requests:

  • to completely withdraw the bill,
  • retract all characterisation of the protest on June 12 as a riot,
  • set up an independent inquiry into the police’s use of force, 
  • undertake not to prosecute arrested protesters.

Two secondary school student at this morning's protest, Ken Yau and Aegean Hui, aged 16 and 14 respectively, joined the rally in their uniforms before attending classes in the afternoon.

Ken, who was studying in Form Five, said he previously attended massive marches against the bill on June 9 and 16, as well as the protests on June 12, even though he had exams.

“I can’t even focus on my revision and I keep thinking about the protests, or watching live broadcasts at home,” he said.

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Although his grades had been affected, he said he would regret it if he was not part of the cause, as he was frustrated by the government’s refusal to withdraw the bill.

“We must have our voices heard, while we still have a chance,” Ken said.

Demosisto leaders Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Nathan Law were also among protesters, saying they were answering the online call to rally.

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Meanwhile, Hong Kong Police, facing allegations of using excessive force on protesters on June 12 and embroiled in a scandal about gaining confidential patient data to arrest protesters in emergency wards, have withdrawn their on-duty officers from two public hospitals, Queen Elizabeth in Yau Ma Tei and Yan Chai in Tsuen Wan.

John Tse Chun-chung, chief superintendent of police at the force’s public relations branch, said today: “It is not withdrawal, nor retaliation or escaping … It is to strike a balance between continuing our services to citizens and reducing friction with hospital staff.” He said officers had been humiliated by hospital staff and leaving the posts was to prevent them from "having to sit in one place and be humiliated over and extended period of time".

Tse said officers at the posts had not left, but would instead patrol around the hospitals and return to their posts at short notice when needed. He added that the force would meet the Hospital Authority, which runs all public hospitals, to discuss how to mend relations between frontline officers and medical workers.


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