Hongkongers Gear Up to Mark Anti-Extradition Bill Movement Anniversary
As Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters geared up to mark the first anniversary of anti-extradition bill movement, leader Carrie Lam warned that the city cannot afford another “chaos”.
More than a million people came out on streets last year to protest against an extradition bill, which would have allowed people to be extradited to mainland China for trails at the courts controlled by the Communist Party. The pro-democracy protesters stood up for their freedom and demanded the bill to be withdrawn.
However, when the bill was withdrawn, it had already been too late as the people then demanded not just the withdrawal but four other things, including the release of arrested protesters and an independent inquiry into police behaviour. Hongkongers feared that the bill would mark the end of “one country, two systems” policy and take away the civil rights of Hong Kong citizens, which they have been enjoying since 1997.
“All of us can see the difficulty we have been through in the past year, and due to such serious situations we have more problems to deal with,” Lam said during a media conference prior to the anti-extradition bill movement anniversary.
“We need to learn from mistakes, I wish all lawmakers can learn from mistakes – that Hong Kong cannot bear such chaos,” she added.
A city-wide unrest is quite unlikely at the moment due to the ban on public gatherings, emerging national security law and the fear of mass arrests. Since March, protests in Hong Kong have been banned due to the pandemic restrictions. Despite the restrictions on entertainment and religious venues being removed, gatherings of more than eight people are still not allowed. Thus, the pro-democracy protestors have only been sharing the times and dress codes for Tuesday’s planned protests without sharing the locations on social media and messaging apps.
“I don’t think the passion has subsided much but the problem is that many actions are now not allowed in the current circumstances,” said Leung Kai-chi, an analyst at the Chinese University.
Apart from celebrating the anti-extradition bill movement anniversary for last year’s rally, protestors have also called to hold a referendum on Sunday to discuss whether to launch a city-wide strike against the national security laws proposed last month by Beijing. However, Lam has been urging Hongkongers to support the national security laws being imposed by the Chinese government.
On Monday, deputy director of China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office Zhang Xiaoming boosted the national security laws, claiming, “They can be free from the fear of violence. They can ride the train and go shopping freely. They can speak the truth on the street without the fear of being beaten up. In particular, they no longer have to worry about young people being brainwashed.”
The anti-extradition bill movement that started as a peaceful protest paralysed the whole former British territory, reminding many of the Tiananmen Square massacre and impacting the economy most. The protests became the new normal for Hongkongers, leaving the population divided and the city’s reputation damaged.
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