Hong Kong Students Issue Ultimatum to Carrie Lam Over Extradition Bill

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Students in chains march to protest against the extradition bill in Hong Kong, June 8, 2019.
Students in chains march to protest against the extradition bill in Hong Kong, June 8, 2019.
AP Photo

Hong Kong students issued an ultimatum to the city's government on Wednesday, calling for the full withdrawal of a law allowing renditions to mainland China, a probe into police violence at last week's protests, and the unconditional release of all those arrested during clashes on June 12.

The Hong Kong Federation of Students also called on protesters to surround government headquarters on Friday and start mass civil disobedience action, should officials fail to meet those demands by 5:00 p.m. local time on Thursday.

Federation standing committee chair Chan Wai-lam said the government should expect protests to escalate if the students' demands weren't met.

"We are hoping that the citizens of Hong Kong will launch a civil disobedience movement so it costs the government more to administer [the city]," Chan said.

"The whole of higher education is calling on people to surround government headquarters on June 21, to express our demands in a peaceful manner," he said.

The group, which links student unions from a number of universities in Hong Kong, said it would also liaise with unions at non-member colleges to coordinate a city-wide action.

The resignation of chief executive Carrie Lam appears to be less of a priority for protesters following her public apology at a press conference on Tuesday.

A handful of protesters has remained encamped outside the Legislative Council (LegCo) since an estimated two million people took to the streets last Sunday to insist on the withdrawal of amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, which Lam has said will be suspended with no timetable for their reintroduction.

'Passing the buck'

Chinese University student union leader So Chun Fung said Lam had sought to defend police violence using tear gas, batons, rubber and textile bullets, and pepper spray on June 12.

"The government is passing the buck and trading blame amongst themselves," So said. "They are engaging in all kinds of word-games, whether it is about the definition of protesters as rioters, their plans for the amendments in LegCo, or the decisions that led to abuse of police power."

Jimmy Sham, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, which organized last Sunday's mass march, said his group would take part in the planned civil disobedience.

"The Civil Human Rights Front will be taking part as well, both in a peaceful mass gathering, and in a memorial event," Sham said, in an apparent reference to a protester who fell to his death after hanging anti-extradition banners from a shopping mall on Saturday.

"We are also working hard in preparation for the [annual] July 1 protest march, and we will be taking our demands to withdraw the extradition bill to that march," he said.

"We hope that Carrie Lam will respond to the demands of the people of Hong Kong before that," Sham added.

Au Kei, who took part in the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy Central movement for universal suffrage, said the situation in Hong Kong has rapidly deteriorated since then.

"If they pass the [amendments to the] Fugutive Offenders Ordinance, this will affect Hong Kong's core values," Au said. "That's why I came out."

"Hong Kong people may have very different opinions on a lot of the details, but they are also capable of marching together in the same general direction," she said.

Au said she is also angry at the failure of the government to address public concerns over police violence, which has generated a number of complaints to the police regulatory agency by journalists alone.

Call for public inquiry

Meanwhile, religious leaders said they had accepted Lam's public apology, but threw their weight behind calls for a public inquiry into the use of violence by police on June 12, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

Cardinal John Tong of the Catholic Diocese and Reverend Eric So from the Christian Council also called on Lam's administration to explicitly state that the extradition bill has now been withdrawn.

Lam on Tuesday offered an apology in person for "deficiencies" in her government's work, while the city's journalists lodged official complaints about police violence against them.

Lam offered the apology in her first press conference since a series of historic mass protests against plans to allow extradition to China.

While Lam said her government would shelve the amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance on Saturday, two million people took to the streets on Sunday calling for her resignation, and for the bill to be completely withdrawn.

Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) has filed complaints about the mistreatment of dozens of journalists with the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) watchdog and called for a full investigation.

The amendments are widely seen as a threat to Hong Kong's way of life, which was supposed to have been protected under the "one country, two systems" framework under which the former British colony was handed back to China in 1997.

If they become law, the city could lose its status as a separate legal jurisdiction and trading entity, while journalists, visitors, rights activists, dissidents, democratic politicians, and the business community could be targeted for words and actions deemed illegal by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, and extradited to face trial in Chinese courts.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung and Tseng Lap-yin for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Lu Xi for the Mandarin Service.

Comments (2)


A journalist at Radio Free Asia wrote, "Federation standing committee chair Chan Wai-lam said the government should expect protests to escalate if the students' demands weren't met."

In 1997, most Hong Kongers favored (1) unification with China and the concomitant strangulation of human rights over (2) independence as the Republic of Hong Kong and the concomitant guarantee of human rights that they enjoyed under British rule. Indeed, on the day of the handover, millions of Hong Kongers celebrated in public parties. For most Hong Kongers, Chinese nationalism is more important than human rights and democracy. The Chinese differ greatly from the Europeans.

If the current display of support for democracy by the Hong Kongers is genuine, then they should demand independence from China. The Hong Kongers should show the world that they favor human rights and democracy over Chinese nationalism.

[This comment has been edited by RFA Editorial staff per our Terms of Use]

Jun 21, 2019 10:04 AM

Anonymous Reader

You're doing the right thing but watch out and take of yourselves brave people of Hongkong.

Jun 19, 2019 05:19 PM





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