Protestors jam roads and jam up Hong Kong’s extradition bill


Hong Kong : Backing off: Hong Kong’s legislative council was forced to back off from the second reading of the controversial extradition bill on Wednesday as several hundred thousand residents blocked roads and restricted access to government buildings in protest. The controversial amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance seeks to enable extradition of suspected criminals, including those accused of economic offences, to mainland China, apart from Taiwan and Macau. The chief concerns of the Hong Kong residents are with respect to China, whose judicial independence and human rights record have long been suspect.
Firing away: The protestors, who had started gathering outside the Legislative Council buildings since Tuesday night, swelled in numbers by Wednesday morning and blocked several roads, bringing central Hong Kong to a halt. Pitched battles between the protestors and the police resulted in tear gas shelling, water cannons, pepper spray and rubber bullets being used by the latter to disperse the protestors — many of whom wore masks to negate the effects of tear gas.
Second chances: The Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen posted on the council’s website that the debate over the extradition bill will be “changed to a later time to be determined by him.” Wednesday’s protest by Hong Kong’s residents is the second this week, after Sunday’s massive protest that reports say saw the participation of 1.03 million residents, comprising 14% of the city’s 7.4 million population.
Why the angst: Ever since Hong Kong was handed back to China by Great Britain in 1997, it is guaranteed to have its own social, legal and political systems till 2047 — as part of the handing over agreement between the UK and China under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework. Protestors, who came from all walks of life — teachers, students, businessmen and parents — fear that the extradition bill could be used to stifle political dissent and for minor economic offences.


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