Political Crisis
in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has been rocked by months of increasingly violent protests. Local residents are angry about mainland China’s growing influence in the semi-autonomous city. Here’s RFA’s continuing coverage of the political crisis in Hong Kong.


November 20, 2019


Protests, Siege Continue in Hong Kong as China Rails at Passage of US Bill

A few dozen people remained trapped inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Poly U) on Wednesday, as lunchtime protests continued on the city's streets and China hit out at the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by the Senate.

Poly U president Teng Jin-guang said that around 100 protesters are still on campus, 20 of whom are students there after a small number left to submit to arrest, citing deteriorating conditions inside.


Anti-government protesters are taken by paramedics to ambulances from the campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) after being barricaded inside for days, in the Hung Hom district of Hong Kong,Nov. 20, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Anti-government protesters are taken by paramedics to ambulances from the campus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) after being barricaded inside for days, in the Hung Hom district of Hong Kong,Nov. 20, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


"The campus is in a chaotic condition with dangerous chemicals," Teng told reporters. "Hygiene conditions are also deteriorating," he said.

"We believe that these conditions pose a significant risk to the people in the campus."

Five people were arrested after two protesters tried to escape via a sewer on Wednesday, as worried parents waited outside for news of their kids, government broadcast RTHK reported.

Police have pledged not to take under-18s into custody if they leave, while any adults will be arrested immediately on suspicion of "rioting," regardless of their role in the protests.

The United Nations expressed "deepening concern" over the situation in Hong Kong, which has been gripped by pro-democracy protests since June.

The U.N. Human Rights Office said it opposed violence by both protesters and police, and appealed to the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam "to do all they can to de escalate the situation, to address the humanitarian situation of those inside which is clearly deteriorating, and facilitate a peaceful resolution."

"At this juncture, we are deeply concerned at the risk of further escalation of violence in Hong Kong," the office said in a statement.

"Accountability for violence is also key – both in the case of individuals who have broken the law and committed acts of violence, but also in the case of allegations of excessive use of force by the police," it said, offering assistance in resolving the crisis through dialogue.

China slams rights bill

Hundreds of protesters blocked traffic in three districts at lunchtime on Wednesday using traffic barriers, cones and other items, chanting slogans calling on Lam to meet all five demands of the protest movement.

Around 200 masked protesters took to the streets in Kwun Tong, singing the anthem of the protest movement "Glory to Hong Kong," and chanting "Free Hong Kong! Revolution now!"

In Beijing, officials hit out at the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, saying it interferes in China's internal affairs.

"The bill disregards the facts, confuses right and wrong, violates the truth, plays with double standards, openly intervenes in Hong Kong affairs, interferes in China's internal affairs, and seriously violates the norms of international law and international relations," the foreign ministry said in a statement on its website. "China strongly condemns and resolutely opposes it."

"This bad behavior of the United States doesn't only harm China’s interests, but also undermines key interests of the United States in Hong Kong," the statement said.

"The Chinese central government will continue to firmly support the Hong Kong government and ... police in enforcing the law," it said.

Chinese scholar Zhang Yongqiang said the Chinese government is trying to whip up domestic nationalism in the face of the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

"The main purpose of this condemnation is to brainwash people in this country," Zhang said. "The [ruling] Chinese Communist Party isn't currently in control of the situation in Hong Kong ... so it is looking for a scapegoat."

"They have found it in the United States, and the concrete evidence is the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act," he said.

A resident of the southwestern province of Sichuan surnamed He said state media are only reporting the Hong Kong protests in a selective manner, trying to stake out the moral high ground and keep the public on the side of the authorities.

"People with a conscience dare not speak out, and the rest of are being misled by mainland Chinese media," He said. "They are saying that there are pro-independence forces in Hong Kong who are trying to break up the motherland and destroy it, supported by Western hostile forces."

Arbitrary use of force

The Act will require Washington to enforce sanctions against any mainland or Hong Kong officials who carry out human rights abuses, and to carry out an annual review of the separate trading status accorded to the city based on Beijing's promises of non-interference there.

U.S. lawmakers have also approved a ban on the sale of tear gas, rubber bullets and other equipment to Hong Kong.

Chinese University of Hong Kong China expert Willy Lam said the bill won't necessarily be signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump, however.

"It's hard to say whether Trump will sign it because he wants to make progress in trade negotiations with China," Lam said. "If he signs it, China will be angry and the trade agreement could be delayed."

The Hong Kong government said the bill was "unnecessary and unwarranted," and that the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people were fully protected.

But the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales (BHRC) said the Hong Kong authorities have sought to disproportionately limit and prevent legitimate and non-violent protest and assembly.

In a letter to Lam, the Committee said earlier calls for the police to refrain from disproportionate and deadly force had gone unheeded.

"The situation has now escalated to a very dangerous level," the letter said. "We recognize that a minority of the protesters have had recourse themselves to violence and we condemn any violence deployed on all sides."

But it cited credible media and social media reports that have shown "a reckless and arbitrary widespread use of force by the police, including arrests and use of force against journalists documenting the protests and first-aiders treating injured people."

"We are also concerned that tactics already being deployed including the firing of projectiles and teargas into confined areas, which represent a grave and disproportionate danger to life," it said, calling for an independent investigation into reports of police violence.

Reported by Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


November 19, 2019


US Senate Approves Hong Kong Human Rights And Democracy Act

By Paul Eckert

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a bill which requires an annual review of Hong Kong’s human rights situation and sanctions against officials linked to rights abuses in the city, moving the legislation one step closer to possible signature by President Donald Trump.

The Senate’s version of Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act passed in an expedited process without any objections. It will have to be reconciled with a House of Representatives version passed last month into a unified bill that will go back to each chamber for final approval before it is sent to Trump to sign or veto.


People hold their mobile phones as they gather to pray for the students who are barricaded inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus, Nov. 19, 2019.  (Photo: AFP)

People hold their mobile phones as they gather to pray for the students who are barricaded inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus, Nov. 19, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


In actions that came amid a standoff and siege between police and radical students at Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, the Senate also passed the Protect Hong Kong Act, which would prohibit U.S. companies from exporting non-lethal crowd control and defense items to the former British colony.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a bill introduced in June by Marco Rubio and Chris Smith, co-chairmen of Congressional Executive Commission on China, would revise current U.S. policy since Britain handed the city to China in 1997.

U.S. policy treats Hong Kong separately from the rest of China in trade, investment, commerce, and immigration—based on Beijing’s pledge to give the territory a high degree of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” model.

The new act would require the U.S. State Department to report annually to Congress whether Hong Kong is “sufficiently autonomous from China” to justify keeping the city’s distinct trading status, and whether China has “eroded Hong Kong’s civil liberties and rule of law,” as protected by the city’s Basic Law.

“Today, the United States Senate sent a clear message to Hong Kongers fighting for their long-cherished freedoms: we hear you, we continue to stand with you, and we will not stand idly by as Beijing undermines your autonomy,” said Rubio.

“The passage of this bill is an important step in holding accountable those Chinese and Hong Kong government officials responsible for Hong Kong’s eroding autonomy and human rights violations,” he added.

The bill, if enacted, will also enable the U.S. to freeze the assets of, and refuse visas to, officials deemed responsible for human rights violations in the city.

“As the situation in Hong Kong deteriorates, China must understand that the United States of America is committed to the promised freedom and autonomy for Hong Kong,” said Ben Cardin of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Bob Menendez ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “Hong Kong authorities must de-escalate this situation by taking the appropriate steps to address the democratic desires of the people of Hong Kong -- including forming an independent commission to investigate police violence.”

“This legislation makes it clear that the U.S. will stand firmly and unambiguously with the legitimate aspirations of the people of Hong Kong,” he added.

The United States earlier said it is "gravely concerned" the situation in Hong Kong, including the siege at Poly U and other universities.

Rights groups have warned that Hong Kong is now in a state of humanitarian crisis after police fired more than 10,000 rounds of tear gas in recent months, with around 20 percent of those fired into the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) campus during a single day last week.

Lam formally withdrew a planned amendment to the city's extradition laws last month, fulfilling the first of the protest movement's five demands.

But protesters say they will continue until there has also been an amnesty for thousands of people arrested, the withdrawal of the official term 'rioting' to describe the movement, an independent inquiry into police violence against protesters, and fully democratic elections to the Legislative Council and for the post of chief executive.

Government officials have repeatedly ruled out these measures, while calling at the same time for "dialogue" with protesters.


November 18, 2019


Rights Groups Blame Hong Kong Police For 'Fanning Flames' of Violence

Rights groups hit out at Hong Kong police on Monday for 'fanning the flames' of violence as desperate protesters remain trapped inside the Polytechnic University (Poly U) and hundreds more waged pitched battles with riot police in Kowloon.

Amnesty International called the police siege of Poly U one of the most violent confrontations of the five-month-old protest movement, laying the blame on the police.



"By laying siege & firing tear gas & rubber bullets at people trying to flee, Hong Kong Police are again fanning flames of violence when they should be trying to defuse it," the group said via its Twitter account.

"It is the police’s responsibility to de-escalate this situation, but instead of assisting injured protesters trapped at the University they are unlawfully arresting the medics attempting to treat the wounded," it said.

The U.S.-based group Human Rights in China also condemned police action in and around Poly U, "trapping students, journalists, and first aiders, and reportedly handcuffing the latter group."

Video footage circulating online of scenes from early morning Nov. 18, Hong Kong time, showed police chasing and grabbing students inside campus at around 5:30 a.m., as well as police firing tear gas at cars on a highway near the campus driven by citizens intending to help with evacuation; and injured students being carried out of campus at around 6:00 a.m, it said.

Jin-Guang Teng, President of Poly U, said he had negotiated a temporary cease fire with police "under the condition that if the protesters do not initiate the use of force, the police will also not initiate the use of force."

"We have also received permission from the police for you to leave the campus peacefully and I will personally accompany you to the police station, to ensure that your case will be fairly processed," Teng said.

A few hundred students and teachers are believed to be trapped in the Poly U campus.

One frontline protester apologized to his parents for taking part in the defense of the campus, saying that they had warned him never to become a frontline fighter.

"I'm sorry that I was unable to fulfill this wish," he said. "I have nothing to leave them, even though they raised me. I just hope we'll be able to sit down again for a family meal."

"I left yesterday without telling them. They don't know I'm here today."

Students don't trust the police

One worried parent told RFA they fear he will have criminal charges pinned on him by the authorities, just for being at Poly U.

"He's just a kid," the parent said. "The government has thought about what it was they did to make young people come out in protest today."

"They will avoid the issue forever, and they're not listening to the people."

Poly U student spokesman Owan Lee said the students didn't trust the police enough to leave peacefully.


Hong Kong riot police fire tear gas at a fleeing protester in an undated photo. (Photo: AFP)

Protesters react as police fire tear gas while they attempt to march towards Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hung Hom district of Hong Kong on November 18, 2019.


"Video clips show that that there have been search-and-arrest raids carried out on campus by [special squad] raptors, which once more gives the lie to police claims that they didn't enter the campus," Lee told journalists on Monday.

He said a number of students were injured by rubber bullets, or were suffering hypothermia after being hit by water cannon.

"Chief Executive Carrie Lam must take immediate responsibility for the crisis—a crisis created by her failure to address the concerns of millions of Hong Kong people over the past six months of protests," HRIC executive direct Sharon Hom said in a statement.

"Continuing to allow the police to conduct deadly urban warfare against the population will only further fuel public anger, more violence, and more protests," Hom said.

HRIC called on the international community to support the key demands of the protest movement, including the establishment of an independent commission to investigate reports of police abuse and violence and to monitor.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Tanya Chan said there are concerns for an unknown number of students injured after police broke through one of the barricades just before dawn.

"We know that quite a few people were injured ... and we know that none of them has received the treatment in hospital that they need," Chan said. "They are only able to get first aid from paramedics."

"We call on Carrie Lam to allow the injured to leave as soon as possible and get the attention they need," she said.

Former colonial-era second-in-command Anson Chan also called on Lam to order police--some of whom are carrying AR-15 assault rifles amid warnings that they could shoot protesters who throw bricks and Molotov cocktails at them--to stop using lethal weapons.

Joshua Wong, a former leader of the 2014 pro-democracy movement, said the responsibility for the escalating violence lay firmly with Lam and Beijing.

"HK protesters exhausted every peaceful means to persuade this ruthless gov't in last 5 months," Wong said via his Twitter account. "I recall on 1 July when desperate protesters stormed [the Legislative Council], a slogan read 'it's you taught me peaceful protests are useless'. Did #CarrieLam or #XiJinping listen to people? No.

Human chains

The U.K. foreign office said it was "seriously concerned by the escalation in violence from both the protestors and the authorities around Hong Kong university campuses."

"It is vital that those who are injured are able to receive appropriate medical treatment, and that safe passage is made available for all those who wish to leave the area," it said in a statement on its website.

Clashes raged throughout Monday between riot police and protesters trying to approach Poly U to offer support and reinforcements, while small groups of protesters continued to make desperate bids for freedom, many of them only to end up being arrested and beaten by police.

"Officers battered some of their captives with batons and dragged some along the ground, while service revolvers were pulled out at one point," government broadcaster RTHK reported. "Some of those detained were covered in blood."

Police deployed tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets against a crowd trying to push through towards Poly U from Jordan district, with hundreds forming human chains to pass bricks, umbrellas and other supplies to frontline fighters.

Thirty-eight people were injured overnight on Sunday, according to the Hospital Authority. However, the figure was unlikely to include people trapped inside Poly U.

Police made more than 150 arrests over the weekend, bringing the total number of arrests since the movement escalated in early June to nearly 5,000.

The United States condemned the "unjustified use of force" in Hong Kong and called on Beijing to protect Hong Kong's freedom, a senior official in President Donald Trump's administration said.

The clashes came after People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops in sports clothes were seen clearing debris from roads and barricades following the weekend's clashes. Some wore basketball shirts bearing the name of an elite anti-terrorist squad.

Chinese defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the clean-up campaign was welcomed by Hong Kong citizens.

The High Court on Monday ruled a controversial ban on face masks in public was unconstitutional.

Reported by Tseng Yat-yiu, Man Hoi-tsan, Lau Siu-fung, Tseng Lap-yin, Wong Lok-to, Qiao Long and Lu Xi for RFA's Mandarin and Cantonese Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


November 13, 2019


Students Evacuated After Violent Police Raids, Resistance on Hong Kong Campuses

Authorities on Wednesday evacuated students from mainland China and democratic Taiwan from Hong Kong's universities as military helicopters were spotted near one campus and students dug in for another day of siege following Tuesday's clashes with riot police.

Dozens of mainland Chinese students carrying luggage boarded a police launch from a pier near the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), the scene of a police raid on campus on Tuesday during which officers fired more than 1,000 tear gas rounds at fleeing students.



The evacuation was arranged by the ruling Chinese Communist Party's Central Liaison Office in Hong Kong, according to one student surnamed Pan.

"This social unrest is very worrying," Pan said. "We came to Hong Kong to study from the mainland, but now it seems that our personal safety is under threat."

"There have been fires everywhere on campus during the past couple of days, and we can't study in peace, so were are getting ready to go back to the mainland," she said.

Students were being billeted at a hotel in neighboring Shenzhen using facilities funded by the Communist Youth League, Pan added.

"The Communist Youth League in Shenzhen has set up a post to temporarily provide accommodation for students," she said. "We'll go to Shenzhen and stay a while, and then see if we are going home or what."


Hong Kong riot police fire tear gas at a fleeing protester in an undated photo. (Photo: RFA)

Hong Kong riot police fire tear gas at a fleeing protester in an undated photo. (Photo: RFA)


A Youth League worker surnamed Huang who answered the phone at the Shengbao Guesthouse in Shenzhen's Futian district said they were assisting "large numbers" of students fleeing the Hong Kong unrest.

"A lot of people have arrived, starting yesterday evening, and we are doing everything we can to settle them," Huang said. "The [facility] was originally intended for recent graduates who are looking for work, but we have been doing everything we can to find beds for them to sleep in."

Students fly out

Meanwhile, authorities in democratic Taiwan bought flights for their nationals studying at CUHK, escorting some 85 students from the Shatin campus to the airport, while around 40 others had made their own way to the airport.

Some 40 Taiwan nationals studying at Polytechnic University had already returned to the island.

A Taiwan student at CUHK who declined to be named said he felt "selfish" for fleeing Hong Kong.

"I didn't stand on the front line. I think I am selfish, because I put myself first," the student said. "We have feelings for Hong Kong, but we are still bystanders."

Another student said the Hong Kong government was incompetent, and had refused to respond to the five demands of the protest movement, which include fully democratic elections.

"The people of Taiwan can decide who governs them, so the government will respond to their demands," the student said. "But in Hong Kong, too many high-level officials aren't chosen by the people of Hong Kong."

Police 'out of control'

Kaxton Siu, assistant professor of applied social sciences at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Poly U), said Poly U, the University of Hong Kong, and City University, among others, had all been raided by police in recent days.

"The police are out of control right now," Sui said. "This is because chief executive Carrie Lam told the police a few months ago that she would stand by them."

He added: "The Hong Kong police lack a fair and independent accountability mechanism."

Siu said the actions of Lam's administration and the police suggest that the authorities are trying to destabilize Hong Kong, rather than restoring order.

"There would have been no big clashes [at the universities] it it weren't for the police officers going in there," he said. "Beijing's current strategy in ruling Hong Kong is to ruin Hong Kong."

He said the police seemed to have begun using much more hardline tactics following Lam's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week, during which Xi offered her his "absolute trust" and support.

'Huge strategic mistake'

Jackson Yeh, a sociology professor at CUHK, said the police shouldn't have raided the university without a warrant.

"They thought that they could enter the campus arbitrarily without bothering to show a warrant issued by the court," Yeh said. "Personally, I think that this was highly unsatisfactory."

He said social progress and traditional freedoms have now regressed to the state that Taiwan was in under the one-party martial law of the KMT nationalists during the 1970s and 1980s.

"Beijing has made a huge strategic mistake in the way it is ruling Hong Kong, but they are not willing to admit it," Yeh said. "It seems very unwise to me. This won't be resolved any time soon."

Lawyers acting for CUHK students failed on Wednesday to win an injunction against riot police entering the college campus, although they argued that Tuesday's violence had been sparked by the police raid, not the other way around.

But lawyers for the police said students had flung hundreds of Molotov cocktails and countless other projectiles at police, and the court refused the injunction.

Sustained confrontation

The CUHK condemned the violence, blaming both protesters and police for continuing offensive actions while school authorities were trying to negotiate a police withdrawal.

"The negotiation ultimately failed due to sustained confrontation," the university said in a statement on its website. "Petrol bombs and injurious objects were continuously thrown by the crowd present during the confrontation, while the police fired volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets."

It said three students arrested at CUHK on Tuesday were subsequently released on bail.

Hong Kong Security Secretary John Lee said the use of force was needed to gain control of a bridge from which protesters were dropping objects onto a roadway below.

"The police have a duty to ensure public safety is maintained," he told reporters. "That's why we had to take charge of the bridge formerly controlled by the protesters."

CUHK will remain closed through Thursday and Friday owing to severe damage to campus facilities and disrupted public transportation services, the university said.

Around noon on Wednesday, several People's Liberation Army helicopters appeared over the CUHK campus, sparking concern that Beijing is planning a military operation to end the Hong Kong unrest.

Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) was only operating limited subway services on Wednesday, with bus services also affected.

Police were searching cars as lines of private vehicles formed outside the CUHK campus as supporters tried to bring in supplies to support protesters besieged behind homemade barricades, while some supporters brought in bags of water bottles, masks, saline, and other equipment by motor scooter, push-bike or on foot.

Schoolchildren shoved

The city's education bureau came under fire for allowing schools to stay open on Wednesday after around 10 uniformed schoolchildren were stopped and shoved against the wall at Yau Tong MTR station on their way to school.

A video posted to social media showed the riot police yelling at the children. No reason was given for their being stopped and questioned.

The incident was followed by an announcement that schools would close on Thursday, although many schools had taken the decision into their own hands and closed their gates on Wednesday. No mention was made of arrangements for Friday, however.

In Hong Kong's Central business district, where suited, skirted, and kitten-heeled office workers have joined black-clad protesters at the barricades to hurl insults at the police since a city-wide strike on Monday, hundreds of people turned out at lunchtime to further vent their anger at police and at the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam.

Police said normal life in the city is on the brink of "total collapse."

"The rioters' intention is to bring Hong Kong into a total breakdown," police spokesman John Tse told reporters on Wednesday. "No excuse, no political motives can justify or glorify this madness."

Lam was believed to be in a meeting with members of her cabinet, the Executive Council (ExCo), at her residence on Wednesday night.

Reported by Tam Siu-Yin for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


November 11, 2019


Hong Kong Police Shoot, Critically Injure Protester, Sparking Outrage

An international rights group has called for an investigation into the shooting of an unarmed protester by Hong Kong police that left at least one person in critical condition during city-wide protests on Monday.

Video of the incident showed a traffic cop pull out his firearm and point it directly at the chest of a man in a white, hooded top. The officer grabs the white-clad man, before firing at a black-clad protester who approaches him empty-handed.



According to London-based Amnesty International, three live rounds were fired in Sai Wan Ho district on Monday morning.

"At least two protesters were shot and hospitalized, including one 21-year-old protester now in critical situation," the rights group said in a statement on its website.

"The live rounds fired by police are clear evidence of reckless use of force," Man-Kei Tam, director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said, adding that another policeman was seen driving at high speed into a group of protesters on a motorbike. Government broadcaster RTHK said the officer had been "grounded" over his actions.

"These are not policing measures – these are officers out of control with a mindset of retaliation," Tam said. "Today was another shocking low for the Hong Kong police."

Amnesty's Tam called for the immediate suspension of officers who behave in a "reckless, arbitrary way."

"Police officers like the one seen shooting an apparently unarmed protester at point-blank range must be suspended immediately," Tam said. "These behaviors call their training in question and the commands they have been given – officers should be deployed to de-escalate difficult crowd control situations, not make them worse."

The shootings took place amid clashes on Hong Kong Island, as office-workers and frontline protesters alike crowded onto the streets of the Central business district as part of a city-wide strike on Monday, holding up five fingers to represent the five demands of the protest movement.

College classes suspended

Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds, as some protesters smashed windows and sprayed pro-Hong Kong graffiti on the old headquarters of the Bank of China.


Bystanders stand behind a cordon set by police near the site where a pro-democracy protester was shot by a policeman in the Sai Wan Ho area of Hong Kong, Nov. 11, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Bystanders stand behind a cordon set by police near the site where a pro-democracy protester was shot by a policeman in the Sai Wan Ho area of Hong Kong, Nov. 11, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) said it would suspend classes on Tuesday after protesters barricaded themselves into the campus and threw petrol bombs at riot police wielding tear gas. Petrol bombs were also thrown at the Polytechnic University and at Hong Kong University, Reuters reported.

CUHK lecturer Nelson Lee said the government is trying to place all of the responsibility for clashes on the shoulders of protesters, without examining its own role in exacerbating the situation.

He said there are genuine concerns about a breakdown in discipline among frontline police officers.

"I don't think this is going to be resolved by Beijing and the Hong Kong government failing to respond [to protesters' demands] or by using ever greater force to crack down on demonstrators," Lee said.

He said an independent probe into police violence could go a long way towards alleviating public anger.

"I am worried that this out-of-control behavior [by police] is actually systemic in nature, and that either the highest levels of government or the highest ranks of police are no longer in charge of officers on the front line," Lee said.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called for an independent probe into the use of force by the Hong Kong police since anti-government protests escalated in early June, including multiple allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in detention.

It said the current complaints system lacks the power to mount an effective investigation into officers' behavior.

Man set on fire

Several hours after the shooting, the injured protester was in an intensive care facility, guarded by armed police, as dozens of hospital staff protested in the lobby over police violence against protesters.

Meanwhile, another video showed a man being set on fire in Ma On Shan district at around 1.00 p.m. on Monday, after getting into an altercation with someone off camera, who he said wasn't Chinese but British.

Police said they are investigating the case as attempted homicide.

"Police received a report from a passer-by that the 57-year-old man argued with others on a footbridge ... The man was poured with suspected inflammable liquid and set [on] fire by a culprit," the police said in a statement.

"The man was found sustaining multiple burn injuries. He was admitted to Prince of Wales Hospital in critical condition," it said.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said there were more than 60 cases of reported injuries on Monday, calling anti-government protesters "the enemy."

"If there is still any wishful thinking that by escalating violence the Hong Kong [government] will yield to pressure to satisfy the so-called political demands, I'm making this statement clear and loud here: That will not happen," Lam said.

"Violence is not going to give us any solution to the problems that Hong Kong is facing," Lam said, adding that it was "unacceptable" for anyone to say the police are now out of control.

Pro-democracy lawmakers called on Monday for Lam's resignation.

"Lam has repeatedly sought to blame what she calls 'mob violence,' but actually the public see the government and the police as the mob," the Democratic Party said in a statement signed by the party's lawmakers on its Facebook page.

"Lam is going against the tide of public opinion, and is no longer fit to be chief executive," it said.

Troops at any time?

The Democratic Party called on Lam's administration to meet the demands of the protest movement, and to disband and reform the police force.

Meanwhile, Hu Xijin, editor in chief of The Global Times newspaper linked to ruling Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece The People's Daily, said China could send in the troops at any time.

"You have the backing of not only Hong Kong and Chinese people, but also Chinese soldiers and People's Liberation Army in Hong Kong," Hu wrote on his blog. "They can go into Hong Kong to provide support at any time."

China has a garrison of up to 12,000 troops in Hong Kong, who have stayed in their barracks since protests began.

Monday's clashes came after tens of thousands of people gathered across Hong Kong on Friday to mourn 22-year-old student Chow Tsz-lok, who died after falling from a multi-story parking garage after police fired tear gas at protesters.

Plans by Lam to make amendments to extradition laws that would allow the extradition of alleged criminal suspects to face trial in mainland China sparked mass street protests, soon followed by widespread public anger at police use of force against peaceful demonstrators and demands for fully democratic elections.

Lam has since formally withdrawn the hated amendments, but has ruled out meeting the other four demands of the protest movement: an amnesty for arrested protesters; an independent public inquiry into police violence and abuse of power; an end to the official description of protesters as rioters; and fully democratic elections to LegCo and for her replacement.

Reported by Tam Siu-yin and Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


November 4, 2019


Surgeons Reattach Bitten Lawmaker's Ear After Hong Kong Knife Attack

A pro-democracy lawmaker in Hong Kong on Monday had surgery to reattach his ear after it was bitten off by a man who was attacking people with a knife in a shopping mall on Sunday.

Andrew Chiu, a Democratic Party member of the city's Legislative Council (LegCo), had a large amount of his left hear bitten off as he struggled with a man who had been seen attacking people with a knife, leaving four people in hospital.


Hong Kong lawmaker Andrew Chiu reacts after being attacked during a protest in a shopping mall, Nov. 3, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)

Hong Kong lawmaker Andrew Chiu reacts after being attacked during a protest in a shopping mall, Nov. 3, 2019.Hong Kong lawmaker Andrew Chiu reacts after being attacked during a protest in a shopping mall, Nov. 3, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)


Sunday night's attack came after a weekend of protests that saw police once more engage in the widespread use tear gas to disperse crowds and cow local residents who protested against them.

Two people were in critical condition out of a total of 17 people who had been sent to hospital by 9.00 a.m. on Monday, the Hospital Authority said.

The injuries came after protests and clashes across the city over the weekend.

A student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was seriously injured after falling from the third to the second floor of a car park, apparently while trying to escape tear gas fired by riot police.

Students at the college held a rally on Monday night to support the student, identified only by his surname Chow, saying that police should be strongly condemned for refusing to allow an ambulance crew to approach him.

Hundreds of angry students faced off with the university’s president Wei Shyy for several hours, calling on him to publicly condemn Chow's treatment at the hands of police.

Local media said Chow is in a critical condition, and a brain scan has shown internal bleeding, with a likelihood of permanent injury.

'Keep our estate safe'

Local residents of Tseun Kwan O said they don't want riot police in their housing estate, because they fire tear gas wherever they go.

"There are four kindergartens and an old people's home on this estate, and if they fire tear gas, these are chemicals that are harmful to human health," a local resident surnamed Lai said. "I think we have to try to keep our estate safe."

She said police shouldn't enter private housing estates unless they are responding to reports of a crime.

Meanwhile, journalists wore helmets to a regular police news briefing on Monday in a silent protest at the use of violence against reporters covering the protesters, but police accused them of troublemaking and having "forced" them to end the news conference.

The police spokespeople ended the briefing after asking journalists from RTHK, the Ming Pao, Stand News, Initium Media, AM730 and InMedia to remove the helmets, and then to leave. They refused, and the officials left.

Journalists' associations have repeatedly condemned the police for arresting, tear gassing, pepper spraying, beating, and shooting media workers with rubber bullets and bean bags.

Political commentator To Yiu-ming said the journalists' actions had been moderate and non-disruptive.

"They want the police to face up to their violence against journalists, and that's not going to happen if all they do is ask questions at a press conference," To said. "There has been some very serious violence by police against journalists in the past few weeks,

"[Police have shot them, sprayed them with pepper spray, as well as shoving and threatening them, and obstructing their reporting," he said. "You have to bear in mind proportionality ... I thought this was a pretty mild-mannered protest."

Protests enter fifth month

Public anger has continued to simmer in Hong Kong as Beijing has warned of a political crackdown as anti-government protests enter their fifth month.

In a sign that anger is also shifting in the direction of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, protesters vandalized the headquarters of state-run Xinhua News Agency on Saturday, breaking panes of glass and setting fires in the entrance hall.

The vandalism comes after weeks of the targeting of China-linked businesses by some protesters.

"This is serious provocation that crosses a red line in a civilized society," Qiu Hong, deputy director of Beijing's Central Liaison Office in Hong Kong, said. "[It] must be severely punished according to the law."

An article in the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily accused pro-democracy lawmakers of inciting violence and dividing Hong Kong society.

"They are trying to destroy the fabric of Hong Kong society, create social rifts, and destroy law and order in Hong Kong," the paper said.

Beijing's Political and Legal Affairs Commission also hit out at the attacks, likening them to "mob behavior" and "creating terror."

Hong Kong journalists' associations have also condemned the attacks on Xinhua.

Reported by Tam Siu-yin, Man Hoi-tsan and Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 16, 2019


Hong Kong Lawmakers, Activists Slam Hammer Attack on Peaceful March Organizer

A key organizer of recent million-strong peaceful protests has been attacked in Hong Kong by unidentified thugs wielding hammers, as the city's chief executive Carrie Lam left the legislature amid heckling from during her annual policy address.

"Civil Human Rights Front convenor, Jimmy Sham, was attacked in Mong Kok Arran Lane by 4-5 people with hammers this evening at around 7:30 p.m.," the group said via its Twitter account on Wednesday.


Hong Kong protest organizer Jimmy Shan lies injured in the street after being attacked by unidentified assailants, Oct. 16, 2019. (Photo: Social Media)

Hong Kong protest organizer Jimmy Shan lies injured in the street after being attacked by unidentified assailants, Oct. 16, 2019. (Photo: Social Media)


"Jimmy Sham ... is now stable and taking rest in hospital," it said in a later tweet, as photos of Sham lying on the ground near a parked white car, covered in blood, began to circulate on social media.

Tanya Chan, convenor of the pro-democracy camp in the Legislative Council (LegCo) said she was very angry at the attack on Sham, especially after nobody had been arrested for an earlier attack on him in August.

"I am shocked and angry at the attack on Jimmy, especially as, as far as I am aware, not one person has been apprehended for the attack a couple of months ago," Chan said, in reference to an attack by two masked men armed with a baseball bat and knives.

"Carrie Lam, are you watching? What has Hong Kong become?" she said.

Long-time social activist and former lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung called on the people of Hong Kong to continue to insist on the five demands of the protest movement.

"There is no use being afraid," Leung told reporters outside Kwong Wah Hospital, where Sham is being treated. "Five demands, not one less."

The Civil Human Rights Front—which has organized two protest marches of more than a million people against plans to allow extradition to mainland China in recent months—called on people to join a mass march on Sunday in protest at the attack.

The group's spokesman Figo Chan said the attackers waved knives at people who tried to intervene, before escaping in a car.

"He was lying there on the ground to wait for treatment; he told me he couldn't move because his arms and legs were injured," Chan said. "There was a lot of blood."

"We strongly condemn this attack, which was intended to spread political terror," he said. "We are not going to give up our fight for democracy and human rights in Hong Kong."

Speech disrupted

Carrie Lam entered the LegCo chamber on Wednesday to give her policy address, in an apparent bid to soothe the situation with promises of more affordable housing.

But she soon cut off her speech after repeated shouts of "Five demands! Not one less!" from pro-democracy LegCo members.

The protesters' five key demands are: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.

In recent days, protesters have also begun calling for the current Hong Kong police force to be disbanded, particularly after widespread reports of the sexual abuse and torture of detainees at the hands of police.

Joshua Wong, a former student leader during the 2014 pro-democracy movement, earlier hit out at a warning from Chinese President Xi Jinping that anyone trying to "split China" would meet a sticky end, saying that the ruling Chinese Communist Party is deliberately misunderstanding the protest movement.

"I think President Xi definitely misinterprets the actual situation in HK and dodges our calls for democracy," he wrote via his Twitter account.

"Hongkongers are now fighting for true and fair universal suffrage, which is the unresolved promise in Basic Law 22 years after the transfer of sovereignty," Wong said, citing a recent survey by the Chinese University of Hong Kong as saying that more than 80 percent of Hong Kong's seven million population supports fully democratic elections in the city.

"Xi’s remark will not scare us off, but only makes us more resolute and tenacious. We won’t back down until the day when democracy comes," Wong said.

US lawmakers act in support

The renewed public anger in Hong Kong comes a day after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which will require Washington to review Hong Kong’s human rights situation annually and to take sanctions against officials linked to rights abuses in the city, if approved by the Senate.

Joshua Wong and fellow activist Denise Ho have pushed for the bill’s passage, saying it will protect democracy in Hong Kong, and more than 100,000 protesters joined a rally on Monday night in which they sang the U.S. national anthem, waved American flags, and urged Congress to approve the act.

Lam's administration hit back at the bill's passage in a statement on Wednesday, saying human rights were safe in their hands, and that democracy could only come after peaceful dialogue.

"The Hong Kong ... government attaches great importance to human rights and freedoms and is determined to safeguard them," the statement said. "Foreign legislatures should not interfere in any form in the internal affairs of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region."

It said constitutional change could only take place on the basis of a decree from the China's National People's Congress (NPC) standing committee on Aug. 31, 2014, which insisted that election candidates in a one-person, one-vote scenario must be pre-approved by Beijing-backed officials.

The ruling sparked the 79-day 2014 Occupy Central movement which rejected the proposal as "fake universal suffrage."

Hong Kong citizens must decide

U.S.-based legal scholar Lee Yuen said that any decisions on the future of Hong Kong should be made by its citizens.

"It's not going to benefit the Hong Kong and Beijing governments, let alone the pro-democracy faction, if they prevent people from standing as candidates," Lee said.

Six pro-democracy lawmakers have already been stripped of their seats after Beijing ruled their oaths of allegiance invalid, while pro-democracy candidates have been barred from standing in LegCo by-elections on the basis of their political views.

A number of would-be district election candidates, including Joshua Wong, are currently being questioned about their political views, amid concerns that their candidacies will be rejected before the elections even take place.

The attack on Sham comes amid an ongoing debate among protesters about the use of violence in the form of rock-throwing, Molotov cocktails, and frontline attacks on riot police trying to disperse crowds, as well as acts of vandalism on China-linked businesses and public facilities that don't directly target people.

Veteran democracy activist Richard Choi of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China said it is crucial that the protest movement stick to peaceful, non-violent direct action when standing up to the totalitarian might of Beijing.

"It is very hard to stand up to the totalitarian power that is the Chinese Communist Party," Choi said. "But once we let go of peaceful, rational protest and start using force, we are likely to be violently suppressed by the Chinese government."

"What's more, we will lose the support and understanding of citizens both in Hong Kong and mainland China," he said. "We may even lose international support for the people of Hong Kong."

Peaceful vs. violent protest

A protester surnamed Wong told RFA that he doesn't oppose the force used by the movement's "frontline" fighters, however.

"Personally, as a frontline fighter, I don't oppose peaceful protest, which is part of an international strategy for fighting totalitarianism," he said.

But there is currently a huge gap between the tendency of the police to inflict harm on people, and that of the protesters, he said.

"The Hong Kong Police Force imports its equipment from overseas, and there is nothing they won't do when it comes to harming Hong Kong people," Wong said. "We have seen this in recent reports of police brutality."

Hong Kong current affairs commentator Sang Pu said other countries would likely prefer to see a peaceful protest movement in Hong Kong.

"None of them can tolerate being criticized by China for inciting the protesters to violent resistance," Sang said.

But he said U.S. senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley hadn't mentioned protester violence when throwing their support behind the protest movement during a trip to Hong Kong earlier this week.

"Instead, they made a point of bringing up the shooting with live ammunition of an 18-year-old school kid in Tsuen Wan on Oct. 1, calling him another June 4, 1989 Tank Man," he said.

The latest opinion survey carried out by the Chinese University of Hong Kong on behalf of the Chinese-language Ming Pao newspaper found that just 30 percent of respondents say they trust the police, their own government and Beijing, with waning public support for a purely peaceful movement.

Seventy-two percent of those polled said the use of force by police was "excessive," while 75 percent said the government hadn't done enough to resolve the situation. Of that 75 percent, 70 percent said an independent inquiry would be a bare minimum to resolve the impasse.

Reported by Tam Siu-yin and Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Shi Shan and Han Jie for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 15, 2019


US House of Representatives Unanimously Pass Hong Kong Human Rights And Democracy Act

By Joshua Lipes

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which will require Washington to review Hong Kong’s human rights situation annually and to take sanctions against officials linked to rights abuses in the city, if approved by the Senate.

The act was one of four measures related to the situation in Hong Kong that was passed by House lawmakers in unanimous votes.


Protestors light their torches during a peaceful rally in central Hong Kong's business district, Oct. 14, 2019. (Photo: AP)

Protestors light their torches during a peaceful rally in central Hong Kong's business district, Oct. 14, 2019. (Photo: AP)


The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, a bill introduced in June by Marco Rubio and Chris Smith, co-chairmen of Congressional Executive Commission on China, would revise current U.S. policy since Britain handed the city to China in 1997, which treats Hong Kong separately from the rest of China in trade, investment, commerce, and immigration—based on Beijing’s pledge to give the territory a high degree of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” model.

If passed by the Senate, the bill would require the U.S. State Department to report annually to Congress whether Hong Kong is “sufficiently autonomous from China” to justify unique treatment, and whether China has “eroded Hong Kong’s civil liberties and rule of law,” as protected by the city’s Basic Law.

Other measures in the bill include the requirement that the President provide Congress with an assessment as to whether to withdraw from the U.S.-Hong Kong extradition treaty, and what actions are needed to protect U.S. citizens and national security interests if Hong Kong amends its laws to allow the rendition of individuals to countries that lack defendants’ rights protections, such as China, or passes a national security law.

The bill, if enacted, will also enable the U.S. to freeze the assets of, and refuse visas to, officials deemed responsible for human rights violations in the city.

It was not immediately clear when the bill will go to the Senate for a vote.

Also passed by the House on Tuesday was Resolution 543, reaffirming the relationship between the U.S. and Hong Kong, voicing support for the protesters, and condemning Chinese interference in the city, as well as the Protect Hong Kong Act, which would end exports to Hong Kong of crowd control devices.

Additionally, lawmakers approved House Resolution 521, which commends Canada for launching extradition proceedings in the U.S. case against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Support for bill

While Rubio has said the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act aims to “hold China to its promise” to respect the freedoms afforded residents of Hong Kong through the “one country, two systems” model, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has called it an attempt to interfere in the city’s internal affairs.

Democracy activists Joshua Wong and Denise Ho have pushed for the bill’s passage, saying it will protect democracy in Hong Kong, and more than 100,000 protesters joined a rally on Monday night in which they sang the U.S. national anthem, waved American flags, and urged Congress to approve the act.

Wong on Monday called on the U.S. to pass the law, then use it to pursue police officers accused of human rights abuses and torture of detainees during the protests, amid multiple allegations of the torture and sexual abuse of detained protesters.

Protests that erupted in June in Hong Kong against plans by the city's government to allow extradition to mainland China have grown into a broader movement, even after Carrie Lam pledged to scrap the plan.

The protesters five key demands are: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.

In recent days, protesters have also begun calling for the current Hong Kong police force to be disbanded, particularly after widespread reports of the sexual abuse and torture of detainees at the hands of police have been publicly dismissed by senior officers.

Over the weekend, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of the state of Missouri traveled to Hong Kong and met with protesters, urging them to refrain from violence, but slamming Hong Kong police for ramping up their use of force.

Hawley—the third U.S. Republican Senator to visit the city since the protests began, following Ted Cruz and Rick Scott—warned that Hong Kong is in danger of becoming “a police state,” and later urged Carrie Lam to resign, prompting the Chief Executive to fire back that his comments were “totally irresponsible and unfounded.”


October 15, 2019


Hong Kong Journalists Decry Police Violence Amid Questions Over Girl's Drowning

As anti-government protests in Hong Kong entered their fifth month, journalists on Tuesday hit out at continuing police violence against media workers, as students called for a full inquiry into the drowning death of a 15-year-old girl.

Police detained and beat a driver for Now TV late on Monday night after he was hit on the head by a beanbag bullet, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) said in a statement on its website.


Hong Kong residents display US flags at mass protest rally, Oct. 14, 2019. (Photo: AP)

Hong Kong residents display US flags at mass protest rally, Oct. 14, 2019. (Photo: AP)


"The driver said he had repeatedly identified himself but was only released for hospital treatment after two hours of detention," the statement said. "He said he was beaten by police with batons on his head, arms, legs, and had his face being pressed onto the wall."

"Hong Kong Journalists Association strongly condemns the police for the unreasonable detention and alleged violent assault of news media staff," it said, calling for an apology and for a full investigation into the incident.

Now TV reported that the driver sustained injuries to his forehead, arms, legs and hands, as well has having a fractured jaw.

Now News also issued a statement said it deeply regrets that their driver was restrained and taken to the police station even after he identified himself as a media employee.

It strongly condemned police violence and abuse of power in their treatment of the driver, and called for an investigation.

'Hong Kong a police state'

The attacks came after U.S. senator Josh Hawley called on Chief Executive Carrie Lam to resign, saying that Hong Kong is sliding towards becoming a police state.

“I chose the words “police state” purposely – because that is exactly what Hong Kong is becoming. I saw it myself,” he later wrote via Twitter. “If Carrie Lam wants to demonstrate otherwise, here’s an idea: resign”

Lam said Hawley’s comments were "irresponsible" and "totally unfounded."

"I would challenge every politician to ask themselves if the large extent of violent acts and all those petrol bombs and arson and really deadly attacks on policemen happened in their own country, what would they do? What would their policemen do?" Lam told journalists on Tuesday.

Her remarks came as dozens of people paid their respects to Chan Yin-lam, a 15-year-old competitive swimmer who was ruled to have died by drowning after her body was found floating in the sea near Tseung Kwan O last month.

Chan was enrolled on a youth training course at the Hong Kong Design Institute at the time of her death. Police said there were no marks of violence on her body, although it was found naked, and that her death isn't being treated as suspicious.

Calls for investigation

Students at the institute vandalized parts of the building on Monday night after school authorities didn't release all of its CCTV footage of Chan's movements on campus on the night of her death when asked to do so at a meeting of around 1,000 people.

The school said some footage hadn't been released "for privacy reasons," sparking suspicions among the students, who demanded that all of it be released.

A student who asked to be identified by a nickname Black, an apparent reference to the black clothing worn by anti-extradition protesters, said he had watched the footage, and it didn't look as if she had been heading to the waterfront after she left campus.

"In the clip, she only has the clothes she is wearing, no other belongings, nothing," he said. "I think she was heading out [to the subway], not going to the shore."

A fellow student who gave only a nickname Kevin called on the Design Institute to push for further investigations into Chan's movements on the night of her death.

"We don't have the truth yet, and the circumstances of her death are unclear," he said. "The police claim that her death isn't suspicious, and her body has been cremated."

"As a fellow student at the same school, I feel that I have a right to know," Kevin said. "Everyone wants to know."

Chan is known to have attended protests

Chief executive Lam dismissed concerns over Chan's death as rumor-mongering at an anxious time.

"It is easy for rumors to spread at a time of anxiety, when public trust [in the authorities] is at a low ebb," Lam said. "[As in the case of] the death of this unfortunate 15-year-old girl, even though the police have concluded that her death was not suspicious."

The Hong Kong Design Institute suspended classes for three days from Tuesday.

Protesters have repeatedly laid wreaths and other tributes outside Prince Edward MTR station following persistent reports that deaths occurred inside when riot police stormed the station on Aug. 31.

The selective release of surveillance footage from cameras inside the station by the Mass Transit Rail Corp. has done little to assuage public mistrust in the police, who have been repeatedly accused by protesters, medical personnel, and human rights groups of the mistreatment, torture, and sexual abuse of arrestees since protests escalated in early June.

Solidarity from Prague gathering

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz on Tuesday called on Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which will, if passed, require Washington to review Hong Kong's human rights situation annually and to take sanctions against officials linked to rights abuses in the city.

"It incorporates within it legislation that I introduced specifically calling for reevaluating the relationship with Hong Kong in light of China’s human rights abuses," Cruz said in a statement in Hong Kong, on the last day of a trip to the region.

"I’m here to stand with the people of Hong Kong," he said. "I’m here to stand with the protesters in the street."

He said protesters are standing up and demanding that China honor the 1997 handover agreement to protect Hong Kong’s autonomy, human rights,and free speech and to allow fully democratic elections as provided for in the city's mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

In the Czech capital Prague, meanwhile, International Coalition for Democratic Renewal, gathered at the Forum 2000 Conference, a program co-founded in 1996 by the late Czech President Václav Havel, voiced "solidarity with Hong Kong’s fight for their freedoms and rights as the city has found itself engulfed by an unprecedented governance crisis."

“We urge the Government of Hong Kong to meet the demands for democratic governance of Hong Kong people and respect their rights to defend the universal values of human rights and democracy, which is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," said a statement issued by the coalition.

"We are alarmed that President Xi (jinping) has recently threatened that any attempt to 'split China' will 'end in crushed bodies and shattered bone. This indicates that Beijing might not be trying to de-escalate the situation in Hong Kong and will continue to threaten Taiwan’s democracy," the group added, in a reference to recent remarks by Xi that some analysts said presaged a crackdown on the nearly 20-week-old protest movement in Hong Kong.

Reported by Tam Siu-yin and Man Hoi-tsan for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Han Jie for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 14, 2019


Tens of Thousands Rally in Hong Kong to Ask US For Political Sanctions

More than 100,000 protesters gathered in downtown Hong Kong's Central business district on Monday to call on the U.S. Congress to pass human rights legislation linked to the city's special trading status.

Waving American flags and chanting "Fight for Freedom! Fight for Hong Kong!", as well as "Disband the police!" the crowd lit up the evening with their cell phone flashlights, while singing "Glory to Hong Kong," the anthem of the four-month-old protest movement.


U.S. Senator Warns Hong Kong Becoming ‘Police State’(Cartoon by Rebel Pepper)

U.S. Senator Warns Hong Kong Becoming ‘Police State’(Cartoon by Rebel Pepper)


Rally organizers said around 130,000 people took part in the event, which saw many participants clad in regular work clothes wear masks in protest at an Oct. 5 ban on face-coverings under colonial-era emergency laws.

The after-work crowd soon spilled out from Chater Garden, blocking major highways around the Court of Final Appeal.

The peaceful rally came after police said protest violence had reached "life-threatening levels" in clashes over the weekend, during which police reported the stabbing of one officer, as well as an explosion from a small, home-made bomb.

Protesters have escalated their use of makeshift weapons against riot police amid growing public anger in recent week's over the police force's repeated failure to protect civilians from pro-China mob attacks, and officers' tendency to arrest those being targeted rather than their attackers, according to multiple social media reports and live video streams.

Speakers at the rally called on Congress to pass the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which will require Washington to review the city's rights record when considering whether to continue treating it as a separate entity for trade purposes.

Former 2014 pro-democracy movement leader Joshua Wong called on the U.S. to pass the law, then use it to pursue police officers accused of human rights abuses and torture of detainees during the protests, amid multiple allegations of the torture and sexual abuse of detained protesters.

Sanctions for rights suppression

The bill, if enacted, will also enable the U.S. to freeze the assets of, and refuse visas to, officials deemed responsible for human rights violations in the city.

"Government officials, police officers and election officers who suppress [democratic rights in] Hong Kong should be sanctioned," Wong, who was recently questioned by officials over his political beliefs after applying to run in district elections, told the crowd.

"I hope that the people of Hong Kong will keep going," he said. "We are not giving up now. We will all unite and will never be divided."


Hong Kong police detain a man during protests in the Tseung Kwan O area of Kowloon in Hong Kong, Oct. 13, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Hong Kong police detain a man during protests in the Tseung Kwan O area of Kowloon in Hong Kong, Oct. 13, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


The organizers also called on Washington to ban the export of non-lethal weapons to Hong Kong. Many of the spent tear gas rounds found after the protests have borne the stamps of U.S. factories.

A rally organizer who gave only her surname, Wong, said life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were also the dream of the people of Hong Kong.

"The United States has always represented the values of the free world," she said. "The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act will be the first step in rebuilding order in Hong Kong."

"We thank the United States for its concern for Hong Kong and for letting us know that we aren't alone in the this battle, and that history is on our side," she said.

A protester surnamed Lok said Hong Kong needs to make use of its special status in the international community.

"Hong Kong isn't very big; it's quite a small city, but it has quite a high status in the international community," Lok said. "I hope that the United States can really start to show a bit more concern, and put some pressure on the government."

'Crushed bodies and shattered bones'

The rally came a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping ramped up his political rhetoric, in an apparent reference to the ruling Chinese Communist Party's view that the Hong Kong protests are being orchestrated by "hostile foreign forces."

"Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones,” Xi said on Sunday during a visit to Nepal, official media reported.

Protesters are demanding the formal withdrawal of legislation that would allow extradition to mainland China, an amnesty for thousands of people arrested during the movement, the withdrawal of the official term 'rioting' to describe the protest movement, an independent inquiry into police violence against protesters, and fully democratic elections to the Legislative Council and for the post of chief executive.

While chief executive Carrie Lam has pledged to formally withdraw the extradition law, she has stopped short of ordering an independent public inquiry, a move many feel would go a long way to defusing growing public anger at her administration, and the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.

In recent days, protesters have also begun calling for the current Hong Kong police force to be disbanded, particularly after widespread reports of the sexual abuse and torture of detainees at the hands of police have been publicly dismissed by senior officers.

Police have fired thousands of rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters and arrested more than 2,300 people since June, many of them minors. Two people have been shot with live rounds.

London-based rights group Amnesty International has hit out at the Hong Kong police over the torture and other ill-treatment of anti-extradition protesters in detention, as well as the reckless and indiscriminate use of force.

The group called for a prompt and independent investigation into police actions since protests escalated in early June, after gathering testimonies from more than 20 arrestees, as well as lawyers, healthcare workers and others.

It said "reckless and unlawful tactics" by police seemed to have escalated throughout the course of the anti-extradition movement, which has gripped the city with strikes, sit-ins, mass rallies, human chains and million-strong marches in recent months.

Abuses have included arbitrary arrests and retaliatory violence against arrested persons in custody, some of which has amounted, as well as an excessive amount of force used to quell the protests in violation of international human rights law, the group said in a recent report.

Reported by Lu Xi, Wong Lok-to and Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese and Mandarin Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 13, 2019


Protests, Clashes Continue In Hong Kong After Mass Masked Protest March

Thousands of masked demonstrators took to the streets of Hong Kong for the second weekend in a row in protest at the use of colonial-era emergency legislation, while police began harrassing non-protesting crowds in busy areas following overnight clashes on Sunday.

Riot police charged into the Popcorn shopping mall in Tsuen Kwan O distict on Sunday, arresting and pinning to the ground several shoppers dressed in ordinary casual clothing.


Hong Kong police detain a man during protests in the Tseung Kwan O area of Kowloon in Hong Kong, Oct. 13, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Hong Kong police detain a man during protests in the Tseung Kwan O area of Kowloon in Hong Kong, Oct. 13, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


Thousands of masked demonstrators took to the streets of Hong Kong for the second weekend in a row in protest at the use of colonial-era emergency legislation, while police began harrassing non-protesting crowds in busy areas following overnight clashes on Sunday.

Riot police charged into the Popcorn shopping mall in Tsuen Kwan O distict on Sunday, arresting and pinning to the ground several shoppers dressed in ordinary casual clothing.

The raid came after masked protesters sat on the floor in the mall, folding paper cranes as a symbol of the protest movement. Similar gatherings took place in Taikoo's Cityplaza, New Town Plaza in Shatin on the waterfront at Tsimshatsui, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

Squads of riot police also marched up and down the busy shopping street and major highway of Nathan Road, randomly stopping journalists and demanding to see identification, and stopping traffic with no obvious reason, according to live video feeds from RTHK and the Apple Daily newspaper.

Protesters faced off with riot police in Tsuen Wan and Mong Kok, putting up barricades and blocking streets. They also burned a Chinese national flag in Wong Tai Sin, RTHK said.

During a night of thunderstormss, protesters climbed the city's iconic Lion Rock, where they placed a three-meter statue of a female frontline protester clad in gas mask, helmet, umbrella and goggles, symbolizing democracy.

The statue carries a black banner that reads "Free Hong Kong! Revolution in our time!"

Sunday's protests and clashes continued after thousands of people marched through Kowloon on Saturday, chanting "Hong Kong people, resist!" and "We have the right to wear masks!"

As they passed Tsimshatsui Police Station, many shouted insults or raised their middle finger, as armed police officers watched them warily from a balcony.

'Chinazi'

One officer shouted through a megaphone: "This is an illegal gathering. Please leave immediately, or it will be dispersed by force."

Some protesters spray-painted the word "Chinazi," that has come to symbolize resistance to the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party, as pro-democracy and anti-extradition protests entered their fifth month.

A protester surnamed Tsang, whose two young sons marched alongside her wearing masks, said she was protesting on behalf of the next generation, who would likely be living with much less freedom than her generation had enjoyed.

Protesters are demanding the formal withdrawal of legislation that would allow extradition to mainland China, an amnesty for thousands of people arrested during the movement, the withdrawal of the official term 'rioting' to describe the protest movement, an independent inquiry into police violence against protesters, and fully democratic elections to the Legislative Council and for the post of chief executive.

While chief executive Carrie Lam has pledged to formally withdraw the extradition law, she has stopped short of ordering an independent public inquiry, a move many feel would go a long way to defusing growing public anger at her administration, and the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.

In recent days, protesters have also begun calling for the current Hong Kong police force to be disbanded, particularly after widespread reports of the sexual abuse and torture of detainees at the hands of police have been publicly dismissed by senior officers.

On Saturday, black-clad frontline protesters vandalized government offices in Kowloon, breaking glass, spraying graffiti, and causing a water leakage that left high-pressure water spraying across the sidewalk.

A protester surnamed Chan, who volunteers to protect young people from police violence at the front line, said his son was also marching, and that he would continue to support the movement.

Chan said he doesn't personally support the roadblocks, destruction of public facilities such as Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations and China-linked enterprises that has become a feature of the protest movement, but that he would continue to support the movement to protect younger people.

'Political and criminal responsibility'

He said Lam should step down and not be allowed to leave Hong Kong after she had resigned. Chan also called for an independent commission of inquiry, not just into violent law enforcement, but also into "the political and criminal responsibility of Carrie Lam."

He said Lam had deliberately sought to incite public anger with her use of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to ban masks, and that he didn't understand why Beijing didn't let her resign.

Protesters lit fires outside Cheung Sha Wan Government Offices and broke its security shutters on Saturday, while the Hong Kong Police Force posted photos of Molotov cocktails being thrown at Kowloon Tong MTR station.

The MTR has become a target of public anger over repeated station shutdowns that have have amounted to an unofficial curfew in a city where a large proportion of the seven million residents rely on public transport to get around.

Police have meanwhile continued to use MTR stations as safe haven, sheltering behind the security shutters and using special trains laid on by the MTR to ferry forces and equipment around the city.

The MTR on Sunday shut subway stations at City One, Mong Kok, Kwai Fong, Kwai Hing, Kwun Tong, Shatin, Shatin Wai, Tsuen Wan, Tsuen Wan West, and Tseung Kwan O.

It said the closures were "because of an escalation of the situation at stations [and] to ensure the safety of passengers and our staff."

The Light Rail service was suspended, while the Airport Express service only stopped at the airport and downtown Hong Kong Stations, missing out intervening stops entirely, the MTR said in a statement on its website.

"More stations might close without further notice," it said.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Zheng Chongsheng for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 11, 2019


Hong Kong Office Workers March Over Allegations of Police Abuses in Detention

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Friday to protest allegations of police sexual abuse and torture reported by arrested anti-extradition protesters.

Chanting "Five demands, not one less!" and "Disband the police!" the protesters blocked major streets in the Central business district before marching along them.


A police officer displays a warning banner during a flash mob rally to show support for pro-democracy protesters in the Central district in Hong Kong, Oct. 11, 2019.  (Photo: AFP)

A police officer displays a warning banner during a flash mob rally to show support for pro-democracy protesters in the Central district in Hong Kong, Oct. 11, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


Some wore masks in defiance of a hugely controversial mask ban brought in by the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam under colonial-era emergency laws, but most were clad in regular work clothing as opposed to the black protective gear of frontline anti-government protesters.

Police raised a yellow warning flag and accused participants of violating the mask ban, but the warnings had scant effect.

"This is a police warning," they shouted through a megaphone. "You are attending an unauthorized gathering, and some people are wearing masks, in violation of the anti-mask law."

The march came after a student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said police at the notorious San Uk Ling detention center had sexually assaulted and tortured arrested protesters, leaving many with severe injuries, an account that has been backed up by local media reports citing healthcare workers, protesters and politicians.

A participants surnamed Lee said she was wearing a mask because of illness, and had come out to join the march during her lunch break from her office job.

"What is the problem with wearing a mask?" Lee said. "It is completely unreasonable to discriminate against people wearing masks by suspecting or arresting them."

"Why not treat them equally? The spirit of the rule of law is equality for all," she said.

Multiple allegations of assault

Lee said she had come out in protest after watching the testimony of the Chinese University of Hong Kong student on Thursday.

"These allegations aren't only being made by one person," she said.

"If people are coming out in public to talk about it, then it is unlikely that this incident didn't take place."

"I get the feeling that Hong Kong right now has changed from being one of the safest cities in the world to somewhere that is very unsafe," she said.

A student surnamed Cheung from the University of Hong Kong also took part in the march wearing a mask, in order to show her opposition to the mask ban.

"The situation is pretty desperate, as we have protesters being sexually abused, arrested for no reason and even dying with their deaths claimed as suicide," Cheung said.

"But young people feel that they have to stand up regardless of these kinds of injuries suffered by protesters," she said. "We have to tell everyone about the sort of suffering the protesters are dealing with right now, that such suffering really is happening in Hong Kong."

"We hope that the government ... will face up to this, and not just stand by and watch," she said.

Meanwhile, foreign correspondents working in Hong Kong have called on police to better protect journalists covering the protests after an Indonesian reporter lost the use of one eye after being hit by a police rubber bullet.

"Violence against journalists covering the unrest has escalated — as have attempts by police to interfere with press coverage, which is a right granted under Hong Kong law," the Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC) said in a statement after meeting with police.

Journalists deliberately targeted

It cited incidents where police had deliberately targeted journalists with tear gas and pepper spray, as well as attempts by officers to stop the media from filming events by blocking camera lenses and flashing strobe lights at the press.

"Most concerning has been the case of Indonesian journalist Veby Mega Indah, who has been left without sight in her eye after she was hit by a police rubber bullet," the FCC said. "She was visibly identified as a member of the press and was standing apart from protesters at the time she was hit."

The FCC said journalists are authorized to wear masks when covering protests on the grounds of professional safety.

A student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Thursday stood up and testified in front of its president Rocky Tuan to sexual abuse and beatings suffered by detained protesters at San Uk Ling Holding Center.

"The police just ordered us around as they saw fit, for example to enter a pitch-dark room, or to take off all of our clothes," the masked woman, who later removed her mask to challenge Tuan to speak out against violence, told the meeting tears.

"Did you know that there are students at this school who are still attending follow-up medical treatment because of getting beaten up by the raptors [special forces]?" she said. "Did you know that the room they search people in at San Uk Ling is totally dark, and that I am not the only person who suffered sexual violence at the hands of the police?"

"Others under arrest were also sexually assaulted and tortured by both male and female police, and not just one at a time," she said.

Hong Kong police have made more than 2,600 arrests since the anti-extradition movement took to the streets in early June. More than 240 people have been arrested for violating a ban on mask-wearing in public, brought in by Lam last weekend under colonial-era legislation giving her administration emergency powers.

The decision to invoke emergency legislation has paved the way for potentially draconian controls on every aspect of life and business in the city, as it allows the chief executive and ExCo to make new laws considered to be in the public interest, including ordering the inspection and control of publications, maps, photos, and communications and communications methods.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 10, 2019


Apple Removes Hong Kong Police-Tracking App Used by Protesters

Apple has removed an app that helped Hong Kong protesters track the movements of the city's police force after official Chinese media published an op-ed article slamming the company, amid continuing reports of police violence against protesters.

The app, HK.map live, was removed from the Apple app store after the ruling Chinese Communist Party newspaper the People's Daily complained about it on Wednesday.


Protesters gather in a shopping mall at Ma On Shan in the New Territories of Hong Kong on Oct. 9, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Protesters gather in a shopping mall at Ma On Shan in the New Territories of Hong Kong on Oct. 9, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


Some wore masks in defiance of a hugely controversial mask ban brought in by the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam under colonial-era emergency laws, but most were clad in regular work clothing as opposed to the black protective gear of frontline anti-government protesters.

Police raised a yellow warning flag and accused participants of violating the mask ban, but the warnings had scant effect.

"This is a police warning," they shouted through a megaphone. "You are attending an unauthorized gathering, and some people are wearing masks, in violation of the anti-mask law."

The march came after a student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said police at the notorious San Uk Ling detention center had sexually assaulted and tortured arrested protesters, leaving many with severe injuries, an account that has been backed up by local media reports citing healthcare workers, protesters and politicians.

A participants surnamed Lee said she was wearing a mask because of illness, and had come out to join the march during her lunch break from her office job.

"What is the problem with wearing a mask?" Lee said. "It is completely unreasonable to discriminate against people wearing masks by suspecting or arresting them."

"Why not treat them equally? The spirit of the rule of law is equality for all," she said.

Multiple allegations of assault

Lee said she had come out in protest after watching the testimony of the Chinese University of Hong Kong student on Thursday.

"These allegations aren't only being made by one person," she said.

"If people are coming out in public to talk about it, then it is unlikely that this incident didn't take place."

"I get the feeling that Hong Kong right now has changed from being one of the safest cities in the world to somewhere that is very unsafe," she said.

A student surnamed Cheung from the University of Hong Kong also took part in the march wearing a mask, in order to show her opposition to the mask ban.

"The situation is pretty desperate, as we have protesters being sexually abused, arrested for no reason and even dying with their deaths claimed as suicide," Cheung said.

"But young people feel that they have to stand up regardless of these kinds of injuries suffered by protesters," she said. "We have to tell everyone about the sort of suffering the protesters are dealing with right now, that such suffering really is happening in Hong Kong."

"We hope that the government ... will face up to this, and not just stand by and watch," she said.

Meanwhile, foreign correspondents working in Hong Kong have called on police to better protect journalists covering the protests after an Indonesian reporter lost the use of one eye after being hit by a police rubber bullet.

"Violence against journalists covering the unrest has escalated — as have attempts by police to interfere with press coverage, which is a right granted under Hong Kong law," the Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC) said in a statement after meeting with police.

Journalists deliberately targeted

It cited incidents where police had deliberately targeted journalists with tear gas and pepper spray, as well as attempts by officers to stop the media from filming events by blocking camera lenses and flashing strobe lights at the press.

"Most concerning has been the case of Indonesian journalist Veby Mega Indah, who has been left without sight in her eye after she was hit by a police rubber bullet," the FCC said. "She was visibly identified as a member of the press and was standing apart from protesters at the time she was hit."

The FCC said journalists are authorized to wear masks when covering protests on the grounds of professional safety.

A student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Thursday stood up and testified in front of its president Rocky Tuan to sexual abuse and beatings suffered by detained protesters at San Uk Ling Holding Center.

"The police just ordered us around as they saw fit, for example to enter a pitch-dark room, or to take off all of our clothes," the masked woman, who later removed her mask to challenge Tuan to speak out against violence, told the meeting tears.

"Did you know that there are students at this school who are still attending follow-up medical treatment because of getting beaten up by the raptors [special forces]?" she said. "Did you know that the room they search people in at San Uk Ling is totally dark, and that I am not the only person who suffered sexual violence at the hands of the police?"

"Others under arrest were also sexually assaulted and tortured by both male and female police, and not just one at a time," she said.

Hong Kong police have made more than 2,600 arrests since the anti-extradition movement took to the streets in early June. More than 240 people have been arrested for violating a ban on mask-wearing in public, brought in by Lam last weekend under colonial-era legislation giving her administration emergency powers.

The decision to invoke emergency legislation has paved the way for potentially draconian controls on every aspect of life and business in the city, as it allows the chief executive and ExCo to make new laws considered to be in the public interest, including ordering the inspection and control of publications, maps, photos, and communications and communications methods.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 9, 2019


Hundreds Protest Arrests of Hong Kong Mall Staff Who Denied Police Entry

Hundreds of people staged a protest at a shopping mall in Hong Kong on Wednesday after police arrested five of its security guards for trying to stop police officers from entering the building to arrest protesters.

Five men and two women aged 28 to 62 were arrested in the MOSTown shopping mall in Ma On Shan district after the guards tried to prevent officers from entering the privately owned mall, saying they didn't have a warrant.


Protesters gather in a shopping mall at Ma On Shan in the New Territories of Hong Kong on Oct. 9, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Protesters gather in a shopping mall at Ma On Shan in the New Territories of Hong Kong on Oct. 9, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


Police said they were responding to a report of vandalism at the mall and didn't need a warrant to enter the building.

But pro-democracy lawmaker Alvin Yeung said police aren't allowed to enter private premises just to see who is around. "They have to have a clear idea who they want to arrest," said Yeung, who is a lawyer by training.

Several hundred people gathered at MOSTown mall, demanding the guards' immediate release and calling on the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam to disband the police force.

The arrests came amid widespread public anger at the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) over its compliance with police operational requirements in recent weeks.

The MTR implemented a city-wide shutdown of its stations last weekend, reserving train services and shuttered stations for the use of police officers seeking to crack down on protesters, prompting multiple acts of vandalism by an angry public.

And police on Wednesday admitted that unidentified black-clad men inside the Sheung Shui MTR station -- who shone flashlights into people's faces and refused to answer questions about who they were -- were police officers.

Video footage of an altercation with a local resident and one of the men was posted to social media. In the clip, the resident asks why the flashlight is of a similar kind to those used by police.

"This masked gentleman; I can't tell his identity," the resident says. "Why is he allowed to stay behind in the MTR station when the gates are shut?"

Man in black

In a separate video clip, an unidentified man in black brandishes a can of pepper spray in the face of a local resident, and refuses to answer questions about whether he is an employee of the MTR.

A police spokesman said police are using "a variety of methods" to enforce the law, and denied claims that police had deliberately vandalized the station to make it look like the work of protesters.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Gary Fan said he wasn't convinced, however.

"This sows very reasonable suspicions among the public, that the police were destroying the station facilities and saying it was the protesters," Fan said.

Suspicions have been further fueled by social media posts apparently showing that MTR ticket machines covered up by stickers claiming they were out of order "due to vandalism" were in fact functioning normally underneath the stickers.

The mass closures of the MTR have amounted to an unofficial curfew in recent days, as widespread roadblocks make traveling by car or bus more time-consuming in a city where a large proportion of its seven million residents rely on public transport to get around.

The MTR had previously remained open in the early months of the protests, and even laid on special trains to allow large numbers of protesters to leave a protest site quickly.

But its policies shifted at the end of August, making the corporation a target for radical protesters, and anyone trying to impersonate them.

MTR operations director Adi Lau said the MTR had only taken the decision to close stations after 120 MTR and light rail stations were damaged in the protests.

"Protesters have disrupted normal railway operations in a number of ways, from spraying graffiti in stations, to destroying the entry and exit gates of individual stations, to the recent destruction of a large number of station facilities," Lau said.

"There are no more replacement parts left for some of the equipment," he said. "It was a very difficult decision to close the stations, but the MTR had no choice but to protect the safety of passengers."

'Proactively working with police'

But Fan said the level of vandalism wasn't severe enough to warrant shutting down whole stations, and that many stations are now shutting a full four hours early, at 8.00 p.m., indicating that their closures couldn't be for operational reasons.

"There was no reason to close stations and cause such huge inconvenience to local residents," Fan said. "They are choosing to close stations at 8.00 p.m., which is totally unnecessary."

"Actually, they are imposing a curfew in all but name ... This is an attack on the civil and political rights of local people, and their freedom of speech," Fan said.

He said the MTR should play the role of a public transportation body, and the public would have no problem with it.

"The MTR is only a target for the protest movement because it seems to be proactively working with the police to round up protesters," Fan said.

Hong Kong police have made more than 2,600 arrests since the anti-extradition movement took to the streets in early June. More than 240 people have been arrested for violating a ban on mask-wearing in public, brought in by Lam last weekend under colonial-era legislation giving her administration emergency powers.

The decision to invoke emergency legislation has paved the way for potentially draconian controls on every aspect of life and business in the city, as it allows the chief executive and ExCo to make new laws considered to be in the public interest, including ordering the inspection and control of publications, maps, photos, and communications and communications methods.

Police can also be authorized to make arrests and detentions, deportations, to search and seize industrial goods and facilities, as well as implement controls and checks on goods under transportation, and to enter, search and confiscate private property.

The power to control communications has sparked concerns that the authorities could also move to limit internet freedom, imposing controls and blocks that are similar to the Great Firewall that limits what internet users can see in mainland China.

Lam has refused to rule out calling on the ruling Chinese Communist Party for help in dealing with protesters, who are demanding the formal withdrawal of a law enabling extradition to mainland China; an independent inquiry into police violence; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as 'rioters'; and fully democratic elections to the Legislative Council (LegCo) and for the post of chief executive.

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin and Cantonese Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 8, 2019


Hong Kong's Leader 'Doesn't Rule Out' Asking For China to Intervene in Protests

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that her administration hasn't ruled out asking the ruling Chinese Communist Party for help to deal with mass street protests that have gripped the city since June.

"I cannot tell you categorically now under what circumstances that we will do extra things including your inquiry about calling on the central government to help, which of course is provided for under the Basic Law," Lam told journalists. "At this point in time, I still strongly feel that we should find the solutions ourselves. That is also the position of the Central Government, that Hong Kong should tackle the problem on her own."


Photojournalists wearing protective masks attend a police press conference in Hong Kong Oct. 8, 2019.  (Photo: AFP)

Photojournalists wearing protective masks attend a police press conference in Hong Kong Oct. 8, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


"But if the situation becomes so bad, then no options could be ruled out," Lam said. She responded to questions over the enforceability of the mask ban, which was passed by Lam and her cabinet, the Executive Council (ExCo) last week under emergency powers contained in colonial-era legislation.

"If a piece of legislation has been enacted, but people refuse to abide by the law, then we have a problem," Lam said.

Meanwhile, Lam's administration issued a denial of reports that it is planning to build a police "tactical training" facility near the notorious San Uk Ling Detention Center near the border with mainland China.

"In response to rumours on the Internet that the Government plans to construct a police base near San Uk Ling for counter-terrorism, a Government spokesman today clarified that the Government does not have such a plan," the government said in a statement. "The claims are totally unfounded."

Concerns had arisen after the government submitted documents to the Legislative Council (LegCo) finance committee earlier this year that described a massive land-leveling project to make way for a police training center close to San Uk Ling, where many detained protesters have complained of being abused and tortured while in police detention.

The project was allocated H.K.$1.9 billion in funding, and construction is due to begin in November, according to documents made public on the LegCo website.

The documents were submitted in February, a few weeks after a delegation from the Hong Kong government led by undersecretary for security Au Chi Kwong visited Xinjiang, where authorities are holding more than 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas in a vast network of internment camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) since April 2017.

While Beijing initially denied the existence of the camps, China this year changed tack and began describing the facilities as “boarding schools” that provide vocational training for Uyghurs, discourage radicalization, and help protect the country from terrorism.

Hong Kong government secrecy

Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media organizations, however, has shown that those in the camps are detained against their will and subjected to political indoctrination, routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions in the often overcrowded facilities.

Plans submitted by the Hong Kong government in 2016 indicate a large number of police driving training courses, testing grounds, large-scale shooting ranges, helipads and gun equipment training areas, as well as a "multi-story training building."

The site is currently undeveloped surrounded by remote hills and barbed wire fencing. A signboard on one fence reads: "Government land, no dumping of waste" and is marked with a logo for the "China Road and Bridge Corporation."

On August 11, Hong Kong police brought 54 detainees to the San Uk Ling Holding Center, despite it being relatively far from urban areas, the Hong Kong Free Press reported at the time. "Thirty-one of those detained there were later hospitalized, and six were treated for fractured bones, raising concerns about potential abuse at the site," it said.

But the government said police had "rejected the unfounded allegations," and denied permission to pro-democracy lawmakers to visit the site.

Signs indicating its location have since been removed from a nearby highway, a private tour guide surname Tam told journalists who went there privately last month.

That group was stopped 100 meters away from the entrance to the site by police guards. The center is surrounded by 10-meter walls with barbed wire and several watch towers, and is guarded by police with rifles. Cell blocks accommodate from 200-250 detainees.

The facility was built under British colonial rule after the closure of the borders between Hong Kong and mainland China in 1951, Tam said.

It has been used to house illegal immigrants and mass arrested detainees during civil unrest.

"Its main role has been to send illegal immigrants from China back to the mainland," Tam said. "In addition, after the June 4th incident in 1989, some democracy activists crossed the border secretly into Hong Kong through the underground railroad, and were detained here while waiting for their cases to be reviewed, and then traveled on to the United States, Germany and other places."

Many detainees 'still fearful'

On August 5, some of the people arrested outside the Tin Shui Wai police station became the first batch of anti-extradition protesters to be held at San Uk Ling Holding Centre, the Hong Kong Free Press reported.

"San Uk Ling has caught our attention because 54 demonstrators were sent to this place on Aug. 11, 31 of whom needed to be sent to hospital, six of them with serious fractures," Tam said. "A nurse from the North District Hospital said that one of injured's hand bones were almost completely crushed, and only the flesh and blood were connected."

"There is one more thing: some lawyers have been there, but they were delayed for 10 hours before they could meet their clients," he said.

Tam, a local historian and retired teacher, said inmates sleep five to a concrete bed in cells, which are dark. There is no CCTV monitoring anywhere on the site, making it hard to verify reports of abuses and torture.

"There is no light in the cells," he said. "The demonstrators described not being able to see their own hands in front of their faces ... Police had to take their own flashlights to enter the cells."

Pro-democracy lawmaker Gary Fan said local politicians had visited some of the protesters held in San Uk Ling.

"There are members of the North District Council who went to the North District Hospital to visit the demonstrators who had been detained in San Uk Ling," he said. "Many people were still fearful, and chose to stay silent, not daring to disclose how they were treated, but actually they had very serious injuries."

Some detainees did speak out about abuse, describing various kinds of mistreatment, including sexual assault and humiliation. One detainee was abused by two officers after he refused to hand over the password to his smartphone.

Police denied all of the allegations at a press conference on the same day. A spokesman said San Uk Ling had only been used temporarily to handle large number of detainees, and hadn't been used since Sept. 2.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Au Nok-hin said he had asked government officials back in February what they were planning to build as part of the police "tactical training center" next door to San Uk Ling.

"They have been reluctant to disclose anything," he said. "Every time I brought up the purpose of the tactical training center, they ... answer questions about the construction of the tactical training center, but by the time they're done we still don't know what tactics they will be trained in."

A youth worker from Kazakhstan who has worked with former detainees in Xinjiang's mass incarceration camps said the training center plans bore some similarity to Chinese "re-education" camps in Xinjiang.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung, Fong Tak-ho and Tam Siu-yin for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Gao Feng and Qiao Long for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 8, 2019


U.S. Senator Calls on NBA to Cancel China Games Amid Hong Kong Protest Row

A Republican Senator has weighed into a row over the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s attitude to China after it condemned Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey for his public support of the Hong Kong protest movement.

Josh Hawley wrote to NBA chief Adam Silver calling on the sporting body to remember its responsibilities and to stop aiding "the most brutal of regimes."


Beijing has been effective at silencing critics as it carries out human rights abuses and stifles dissent in Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong. The NBA was the latest victim. (Cartoon by Rebel Pepper/RFA)

Beijing has been effective at silencing critics as it carries out human rights abuses and stifles dissent in Tibet, Xinjiang and Hong Kong. The NBA was the latest victim.(Cartoon by Rebel Pepper/RFA)


"Remember that some things are more important than money," Hawley told the NBA. "Remember your responsibility ... For an American organization to help the most brutal of regimes silence dissent in pursuit of profit is appalling."

He called for an end to all NBA exhibition games in China until the situation in Hong Kong was resolved.

"For five months now, Hong Kong’s citizens have been calling for representative government and preservation of their basic liberties,"

Hawley wrote. "In response, and at the instruction of the Chinese Communist Party, the Government of Hong Kong has engaged in escalating repression."

"Police have employed tear gas, batons, water cannons with dye, pepper spray, and rubber bullets against their own people," he said, adding that thousands have been hospitalized and arrested amid a lack of transparency over whether anyone died -- a reference to a raid by riot police who attacked passengers in Prince Edward MTR station on Aug. 31.

The NBA had responded to Morey's support for the movement by tweeting that he had "deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable."

"What is regrettable is the suppression and political violence carried out by the Chinese Communist Party against the good people of Hong Kong," Hawley said, citing Joseph Tsai, co-founder of the Chinese online trading giant Alibaba and owner of the Brooklyn Nets, who has also called the demonstrations a "separatist movement."

"The people of Hong Kong are themselves Chinese and are seeking nothing more than basic liberties Beijing has promised them," he wrote.

Houston Rockets rebroadcasts cancelled

Chinese broadcasters have been ordered to cancel any rebroadcasts of the Houston Rockets' NBA games because Morey tweeted the words "stand with Hong Kong."


NBA Says Tweet Supporting Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protesters ‘Regrettable’. (Cartoon by Rebel Pepper/RFA)

NBA Says Tweet Supporting Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protesters ‘Regrettable’.(Cartoon by Rebel Pepper/RFA)


But Silver appeared to double down on the NBA's position on Tuesday, saying he still regrets that Chinese fans are upset.

"We are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression," NBA chief Adam Silver said, referring to Morey.

"I regret, again having communicated directly with many friends in China, that so many people are upset, including millions and millions of our fans," he said.

Hong Kong-based Twitter users also called on protesters to delete the game Hearthstone after the company that developed it sanctioned a Hong Kong player for shouting out a protest slogan after winning a tournament.

The company, Blizzard, said it had revoked prize money due to the player, Blitzchung, for violating its rules by engaging in "individual behavior which does not represent Blizzard or Hearthstone Esports."

The row over Morey's support for the Hong Kong protesters comes after Chinese censors deleted all clips, shows and references to the animated comedy show South Park after it aired an episode titled "Band in China" that made fun of Chinese censorship.

"A search of the Twitter-like social media service Weibo turns up not a single mention of South Park among the billions of past posts," the Hollywood Reporter said in a recent report. "On streaming service Youku, owned by Internet giant Alibaba, all links to clips, episodes and even full seasons of the show are now dead."

And on Baidu's Tieba, if users manually type in the URL for what was formerly the South Park thread, a message appears saying that, "According to the relevant law and regulation, this section is temporarily not open," the report said.

Band in China

Twitter user @nomad99hk, who is identified as a Chinese University of Hong Kong student on their bio, said the Chinese Communist Party is a threat to freedom.

"The victims is not just us Hongkongers, but also the Tibetans and Uyghurs, who are suffering ... de facto genocide," the user wrote in response to a tweet from Hawley.

Hong Kong-based Twitter user @JanetTeddy111 agreed.

"NBA as a national league of the US, it should play a role to defend the freedom of speech & stand up for its own people who’re just telling the truth," the user wrote.

Other users tweeted screenshots of mainland Chinese social media comments saying that they would support the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the U.S. if the U.S. supported Hong Kong's "pro-independence" movement.

The Hong Kong protest movement is demanding: the formal withdrawal of an amended law enabling extradition to mainland China; an independent inquiry into police violence; an amnesty for thousands of arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as 'rioters'; and fully democratic elections to the Legislative Council (LegCo) and for the post of chief executive.

The South Park episode involves some of the shows characters running afoul of Chinese censorship, while another is sent to a Chinese prison where he runs into Winnie the Pooh, a satirical reference to the bear's targeting by censors over his alleged resemblance to President Xi Jinping.

One character comments during the episode: "You gotta lower your ideals of freedom if you want to suck on the warm teat of China."

South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone later offered a fake apology to China on Twitter, saying that they, like the NBA, "welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts."

"We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn't look just like Winnie the Pooh at all," the apology said. "Long live the Great Communist Party of China! May this autumn's sorghum harvest be bountiful! We good now China?" they wrote.

Reported by Pan Jiaqing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Xi Wang for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 7, 2019


Hong Kong Court Brings First Charges For Violation of Mask Ban

Authorities in Hong Kong on Monday charged the first two people with violating a hugely unpopular mask ban passed by chief executive Carrie Lam under colonial-era emergency powers last week.

More than 100 people showed up outside Eastern District Magistrates Court in support of the first two people to be charged under a newly enacted mask ban, which came after Lam invoked emergency powers enabling her administration to pass any decree it sees as being in the public interest.



The emergency powers decree sparked a long weekend of mass protests by thousands of mask-wearing people across the city, in spite of a city-wide shutdown of train services by the Mass Transit Railway (MTR).

"It's not a crime to wear a mask!" the supporters chanted. "This is an unreasonable law!"

An 18-year-old student at City University and a 38-year-old unemployed woman were charged jointly on one count of "illegal assembly" and one count of "violating the mask ban" after being arrested in the Kowloon district of Lam Tin.

Both were released on bail, placed under curfew, and are banned from leaving Hong Kong.

Former colonial governor Chris Patten hit out at Lam's mask ban and recent police violence against protesters and bystanders, saying he believes it is only a matter of time before someone is shot and killed by police.

"I fear for the future, unless Carrie Lam actually intervenes and understands the importance of dialogue, understands the importance of talking to people, and understands the importance of giving them the opportunity of reviewing, through an independent commission of inquiry, how we got to this situation," Patten told Sky News.

"Before long, unless we're very, very lucky, people are going to get killed, people are going to get shot," he said. "The idea that with public order policing, you send police forces out with live bullets, with live ammunition, is preposterous."

He added: "And even people who are not taking part in anything violent on the whole will find good... will find reasons for saying that they understand why the violence is going ahead. I do not condone it. I do not want to see it, but for that matter I don't want to see the sort of policing that we've had from from the Hong Kong Police Force."

Patten also said Lam would be "crazy" to have brought in the mask ban in the absence of strong pressure from the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.

"The face masks business - absolutely madness, which people will protest against. So the way forward is to engage with the demonstrators, particularly the peaceful demonstrators," he said.

Heavily influenced by Beijing

Beijing hit out at Patten's "cold-bloodedness, hypocrisy and paranoia." China's foreign ministry said the mask ban was reasonable, and that the UK had led the world in enacting such bans both in the early 18th century and again eight years ago.

Patten was ignoring the serious threat to people’s lives in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong office of the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Bruce Lui, senior journalism lecturer at HKBU, agreed that Lam's handling of the protests since they escalated last June was likely heavily influenced by Beijing.

"I think the whole thing has been Beijing's doing," Lui said. He said Beijing hasn't actually ruled out an independent inquiry into police actions and the government's handling of the protests, one of the five key demands of the protest movement.

"If things get worse to the extent that they harm some of the key material interests of the Chinese Communist Party, as well as threatening its authority, then I think Beijing will set up an independent inquiry at a later stage in the game, and require certain officials to resign," he said.

Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily said in a commentary on Monday that there is an "urgent need to restore order in Hong Kong," which was why the mask ban was passed by Lam and her cabinet, the Executive Council (ExCo).

The paper described the law as a kind of "sterilization and disinfection" for Hong Kong.

Anti-government and anti-police protests continued on Monday, with angry residents in Hong Kong attacking police in Tseung Kwan O district after officers made several arrests there.


Hong Kong protesters smash up a branch of the Bank of China in the Tseung Kwan O residential neighborhood of Kowloon, Oct. 7, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Hong Kong protesters smash up a branch of the Bank of China in the Tseung Kwan O residential neighborhood of Kowloon, Oct. 7, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


Protesters threw a a Molotov cocktail, a small bicycle, metal poles and other objects at police, who fired tear gas back in response, according the Apple Daily live video feed.

They also broke into the MTR station and vandalized it, in protest at mass closures of subway stations to protesters, but not to police.

Firefighters were called to the scene after some protesters set fire to bicycles and other debris in the middle of the road late on Monday, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Education Bureau sent out a letter to all of the city's schools to remind students about the mask ban.

Pressure on schoolchildren

Masks are only to be worn for health or religious reasons, it said. According to some media reports, heads of school have been asked to report back on the numbers of pupils wearing masks or participation in strikes or protest actions in the next few days.

Teddy Tang, who heads the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools, said the authorities wouldn't be verifying the figures reported, however.

"The Education Bureau won't be verifying these numbers with the school," Tang said. "Neither do schools need to report students' names."

But a member of a youth anti-extradition group who gave only his surname Leung said the order would likely create fear and uncertainty among schoolchildren, however.

"The authorities are doing this to create a climate of fear," Leung told RFA, but added that he didn't think it would work.

"Many high school students are not even afraid of being reported by the school," he said. "I know of some students who went to the court to support protesters accused of rioting, even though they risked being marked as absent."

"High schoolers won't be afraid of retaliation from their schools or from the education bureau."

The government has banned people from covering up their faces in public from Oct. 5, under the 1922 Emergency Regulations Ordinance giving the government and police special powers in times of “serious public danger” without the need to go through the Legislative Council (LegCo).

The decision to invoke emergency legislation to ban face-masks in public places has paved the way for potentially draconian controls on every aspect of life and business in the city, as it allows the chief executive and ExCo to make new laws considered to be in the public interest, including ordering the inspection and control of publications, maps, photos, and communications and communications methods.

Police can also be authorized to make arrests and detentions, deportations, to search and seize industrial goods and facilities, as well as implement controls and checks on goods under transportation, and to enter, search and confiscate private property.

The power to control communications has sparked concerns that the authorities could soon also move to limit internet freedom, imposing controls and blocks that are similar to the Great Firewall that limits what internet users can see in mainland China.

Reported by Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Gao Feng for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 6, 2019


Thousands Protest Mask Ban As Clashes Continue in Hong Kong

Thousands of protesters crowded onto the streets of Hong Kong this weekend in two days of renewed protest at the city authorities' use of emergency powers, braving torrential rain, roadblocks and a total shutdown of the subway network.

Chief executive Carrie Lam on Friday announced a ban on the wearing of masks at public gatherings, invoking the draconian Emergency Regulations Ordinance to do so.


A protester receives medical assistance after a taxi hit two protesters during a demonstration in Hong Kong, October 6, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

A protester receives medical assistance after a taxi hit two protesters during a demonstration in Hong Kong, October 6, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


Protesters hit back by donning almost every kind of conceivable face-covering, including Anonymous masks, Winnie-the-Pooh masks in a side-swipe at Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as the now-ubiquitous respirators to guard against tear gas and regular surgical masks.

Others braided their hair over their faces, or wore paper bags with holes cut for eyes.

Thousands of people joined a river of umbrellas that flowed through the night-life district of Wanchai to the usually busy shopping district of Causeway Bay. But most shops had their shutters down in anticipation of the protests.

Bus passengers and people in private cars were scene lining up near the Eastern Harbour Crossing as police checked their ID and searched their bags, live video footage showed.

In the Kowloon-side district of Mong Kok, masked protesters also gathered in large numbers, making their way down Nathan Road in defiance of the ban and the closure of most Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations on Saturday. The MTR said it had reopened some stations on Sunday, but many others remained closed.

Tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon

Police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon at crowds in Causeway Bay, while the Mong Kok protesters constructed elaborate barricades and a Roman-style catapult to lob bricks in the direction of riot police.

Protesters also flung Molotov cocktails at police, leaving the tarmac aflame and accidentally setting fire to a reporter with the government broadcaster, RTHK, the station said.

Tear gas was also deployed in Central, Wanchai, Mong Kok, Prince Edward and Sham Shui Po.

Meanwhile, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) issued a warning to protesters in its first public statement since protests escalated in early June.

Occupants of the PLA's East Kowloon Barracks raised a yellow warning flag and shone spotlights on protesters, watching them through binoculars and filming them with cameras. The warning said that anyone shining laser pointers at the building would be risking arrest. Dozens of laser pointers were nonetheless pointed at the building.

Two people were treated for injuries after a taxi slammed into a group of protesters in Sham Shui Po on Sunday afternoon. A woman was taken to hospital with broken bones after the taxi rammed the crowd, according to social media posts and video footage from the scene.

Video footage also showed protesters kicking and beating the driver of the cab, before being pulled away by other protesters. He was later given first aid as protesters formed a human chain behind him to ward of further attacks.

Police issued a tear gas warning in the district shortly after 5.00 p.m., firing it in spite of an elderly man with limited mobility who was unable to leave quickly.

Political crisis

Live ammunition was also reportedly fired near Prince Edward station.

A Kowloon protester surnamed Chan said nobody supported the use of emergency powers to resolve the political crisis that gripped the city when Lam first floated plans to allow the extradition of alleged criminal suspects to face trial in mainland Chinese courts.

"The government is getting more and more outrageous," Chan said. "Nobody finds the use of emergency regulations acceptable."

"I am worried that we will see the decrees coming thick and fast now," he added.

Riot police also carried out raids on the Hong Kong Baptist University campus, provoking an angry reaction from students, who shone flashlights at the officers and shouted that they were "under university jurisdiction: you can't come in!"

"This is a university," one student argued. "Private property!"

A woman who joined the march on Hong Kong Island said the main reason she had come out was to protest over the use of emergency powers.

"Actually the most worrying thing is the use of the emergency laws, although I am worried about the mask ban too," she said. "They can do anything under emergency laws, including stopping us from getting our money out of the bank, or stopping us from leaving the country."

"That's why opposing the use of emergency regulations is the most important thing," she said.

Injunction reject by court

Protesters set up barricades and threw projectiles, vandalizing the Bank of China headquarters in Central district, while police fired at them from a nearby flyover as the marchers passed police headquarters.

Some carried banners bearing slogans calling on Lam to resign, and for the government to meet all five of the protest movement's demands: the formal withdrawal of a law enabling extradition to mainland China; an independent inquiry into police violence; an amnesty for thousands of arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as 'rioters'; and fully democratic elections to the Legislative Council (LegCo) and for the post of chief executive.

Chanting "Disband the Hong Kong police!" and "Reclaim Hong Kong! Revolution in our Time!" the protesters also waved black versions of the Hong Kong flag, that have become a symbol of the protest movement.

Hong Kong's High Court on Sunday rejected an application by pro-democracy lawmakers for an interim injunction against the mask ban, although it has yet to rule on whether or not to allow a judicial review into the move.

Twenty-four pro-democracy lawmakers had argued that the ban was unconstitutional because it had bypassed LegCO.

They said some people have already been arrested for violating the mask ban, and called on the authorities not to enforce it.

They also echoed protesters' concerns that emergency powers could be used to impose any number of restrictions on people's rights and freedoms.

Anyone who violates the mask ban could face a prison term of up to one year and a fine of up to HK$25,000.

Police can also order people to remove face masks. Those who refuse could get six months in prison or a HK$10,000 fine.

Reported by Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Lu Xi for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 4, 2019


Hong Kong Emergency Powers Could Include Shutting Down Communications

The Hong Kong government’s decision to invoke emergency legislation to ban face-masks in public places has paved the way for potentially draconian controls on every aspect of life and business in the city, commentators warned on Friday.

The administration of chief executive Carrie Lam announced it would ban people from covering up their faces in public assemblies from Oct. 5.


A protester looks on while wearing an 'Iron Man' mask at Admiralty area in Hong Kong as people hit the streets after the government announced a ban on facemasks under colonial-era emergency powers, Oct. 4, 2019.  (Photo: AFP)

A protester looks on while wearing an 'Iron Man' mask at Admiralty area in Hong Kong as people hit the streets after the government announced a ban on facemasks under colonial-era emergency powers, Oct. 4, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


“As the current situation has clearly given rise to a state of serious public danger, the Chief Executive in Council decided at a special meeting this morning to invoke the power under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance and make a new regulation in the name of Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation,” Lam told a news conference.

“I would like to emphasize that the decision to invoke the Emergency Regulations Ordinance is a difficult but also a necessary one for public interest.”

Hong Kong’s emergency legislation, giving the government and police special powers in times of “serious public danger,” was brought in by the British colonial regime in response to a seaman’s strike in 1922.

It allows the chief executive and their cabinet, the Executive Council (ExCo), to make any regulations considered to be in the public interest, including the inspection and control of publications, maps, photos, and communications and communications methods.

Police can also be authorized to make arrests and detentions, deportations, to search and seize industrial goods and facilities, as well as implement controls and checks on goods under transportation, and to enter, search and confiscate private property.

Fears for internet freedom

The power to control communications has sparked concerns that the authorities could soon also move to limit internet freedom, imposing controls and blocks that are similar to the Great Firewall that limits what internet users can see in mainland China.

“Soon, LIHKG and Telegram could be blocked,” one poster on the LIHKG forum used by the protest movement wrote on Friday. “VPNs are the only hope we have, please purchase one when the tools are still available!”

Emergency legislation was last invoked during the 1967 communist-backed riots, with police using special powers to shut down leftist newspapers and schools, and arrest and deport many of the Beijing-backed movement’s leaders.

The leftists retaliated with a home-made bombing campaign that killed and injured hundreds of people including two children, and the burning alive of anti-leftist radio commentator Lam Bun.

University of Hong Kong law lecturer Eric Cheung said the mask ban had now set a precedent for further emergency measures to be ordered using the same legislation.

“Once the precedent is set, you are telling the whole world that you can now change the law at will in ExCo without the need to undergo any kind of process,” Cheung said. “It basically means that they can just announce a new law, any law, without putting it through a legislative process.”

“Now that the Emergency Regulations Ordinance has been used, all it takes is for the situation to get a little worse, and people will be taking their money out … then we’ll start seeing foreign exchange controls,” Cheung said.

Political issues

Independent political commentator Camoes Tam said the mask ban, though not unusual in other countries, was the wrong way to address the problem facing Hong Kong.

“These problems are fundamentally political ones, and yet they think they can solve them using [legal] means like these,” Tam said. “They are trying to frighten people through legal and technical means into not coming out onto the streets.”

“The chief executive needs to get to grips with the political issues, and face them head-on,” he said.

Political commentator Hu Shaojiang said the use of emergency powers means that the ruling Chinese Communist Party is likely very concerned that the protests will spiral still further out of control.

“Beijing has been waiting for the Hong Kong government to adopt a tougher stance towards the protest movement for a long time now,” Hu said in a commentary broadcast on RFA’s Cantonese Service. “In their view, Lam is not nearly hardline enough and the measures she has been taking are not effective enough.”

Hu said Beijing hardliners have been calling on the Hong Kong authorities to use emergency powers for more than a month, very likely at Beijing’s instigation.

“We have been hearing more and more [pro-Beijing figures] voice criticism of Carrie Lam’s approach lately, which is an indication that Beijing is growing increasingly impatient,” he wrote.

Hu said that Hong Kong’s unelected leaders may have miscalculated in banning face masks.

“Totalitarian governments only know how to use force to suppress people,” he wrote. “They will never understand, and have lost public support. Now, they are seeking to control the public through force."

“Not only will this law become a laughing stock that isn’t worth the paper it is written on, it won’t help solve the current crisis in Hong Kong,” Hu said.

He warned that police brutality and social divisions could only worsen once emergency powers had been invoked.

Reported by Wong Lok-to for RFA’s Cantonese Service, and by Gao Feng and Xue Xiaoshan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 4, 2019


Thousands Block Hong Kong Streets in Masks Amid Public Anger Over Ban

Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Friday in protest at the Hong Kong government's ban on the wearing of masks in public, which takes effect at midnight under emergency powers granted by colonial-era legislation.

Chanting "Stand with Hong Kong!", many of the crowd were in regular work clothes, but wore masks to show their displeasure with chief executive Carrie Lam's invocation of emergency laws to bring in a ban on face masks.



The protest filled the narrow streets around the Central business district before spilling out onto the main urban highway of Connaught Road Central, where some protesters burned a street banner congratulating the ruling Chinese Communist Party on the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China on Oct. 1.

"You can ask anyone if they agree with them bringing in this law," a protester surnamed Chu told RFA on Friday. "This will most likely bring even more people out onto the streets, just to oppose this law."

"What's more, they'll be wearing masks, and we'll see how many people they can manage to arrest," she said. "Everything [this administration] has done has been incredibly idiotic."

Rather than the black T-shirts, gas masks, goggles and helmets that have characterized anti-government protests since early June, most participants were in regular office clothes after finishing work for the day, and wore flimsy surgical or fabric masks as a symbolic form of protest.

Lam told a news conference announcing the ban on Friday that the city was in a situation of "chaos and panic," and "serious public danger," one of the conditions enabling her cabinet, the Executive Council (ExCo) to pass the ban immediately.

"We believe that the new law will create a deterrent effect against masked violent protesters and rioters, and will assist the police in its law enforcement," she said.

But Chu and other protesters said the government is largely responsible for the escalation in protests.

"The only reason we wear masks is because of the government's failure to act, and to prevent them coming after us in retaliation," she said. "All of the problems we are facing today were created by them."

"I don't normally wear a mask, but I definitely will if they implement this law; I don't think I have broken any laws," she said.


A man wearing a mask takes part in a protest in the Central business district in Hong Kong, Oct. 4, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

A man wearing a mask takes part in a protest in the Central business district in Hong Kong, Oct. 4, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


The government issued a statement on Friday calling on protesters to stop blocking traffic.

"A large group of protesters have been occupying various major roads ... causing serious obstruction to traffic," the statement said. "Some of them also set fire to a national flag."

"Police warn the protesters to leave and stop their illegal acts immediately," it said.

New law

Lam said that while the mask ban wasn't the same as declaring a state of emergency, it was "essential ... to stop violence and restore calm."

She said the new law allows for the "legitimate" wearing of masks, for example, to comply with work safety regulations.

The law will be tabled in the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Oct. 16, where members will be able to discuss it in more detail, Lam said.

Pro-democracy activist Lester Shum said he had filed an application to launch a judicial review of the new law.

Shum, who was a prominent figure in the 2014 Occupy Central pro-democracy movement, said Lam's use of emergency legislation posed a threat to people's personal safety and property at the hands of law enforcement, because Hong Kong's Emergency Regulations Ordinance provides for the seizure of private property by police.

Sunny Cheung, spokesman for the Hong Kong Higher Institutions International Affairs Delegation that seeks to build civic links between Hong Kong people and overseas allies, said the mask ban was part of the authorities' attempt to create a climate of fear in the city.

"Nobody wants the police to know their identity, because this would put them at risk, so it's part of the climate of fear, which is when people daren't come out in protest because they fear the consequences to themselves," Cheung said.

He said it was unlikely to work, however.

"I don't think protesters on the street are going to back down," he said. "They will stand up in opposition to this evil law."

Reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Xue Xiaoshan, Qiao Long and Zheng Chongsheng for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 3, 2019


Hong Kong Shooting Victim Charged With Rioting Amid Ongoing Protests

Authorities in Hong Kong on Thursday charged a high school student shot in the chest by police with rioting and assaulting a police officer, as ongoing pro-democracy protests once more prompted the closure of train services.

The teenager's shooting came amid city-wide anti-China protests as the ruling Chinese Communist Party marked its 70th anniversary in power on Oct. 1, and was defended by Hong Kong police as "necessary and appropriate," despite widespread public condemnation.


Insence and flowers at a makeshift shrine outside the Mongkok district police station in Hong Kong, where anger continued to mount over the police shooting of a teenage protester, Oct. 3, 2019.(Photo: AFP)

Insence and flowers at a makeshift shrine outside the Mongkok district police station in Hong Kong, where anger continued to mount over the police shooting of a teenage protester, Oct. 3, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


His case is among dozens of similar protester prosecutions to come before Hong Kong's courts in recent days, since a wave of protests and clashes began last weekend and continued through China's Oct. 1 National Day holiday.

Chief executive Carrie Lam was reportedly mulling a ban on masks, which have been used by hundreds of thousands of people to protect themselves against thousands of tear gas canisters fired by police during the past three months of protest, as well as to mask their identities.

Media reports that Lam's cabinet, the Executive Council (ExCo), would push through the ban under colonial-era emergency legislation triggered a temporary spike in shares on Hong Kong's stock market on Thursday.

But protests and confrontations continued on Hong Kong's streets, with large numbers of unarmed, unmasked local residents confronting fully armed riot police in Taikoo district.

Riot police were forced to board two vans and leave a shopping mall and housing project complex after facing off with an angry crowd chanting "Criminal gangs! Criminal gangs!" and hurling obscenities at them.

Police brandished batons, pointed and appeared to fire non-lethal weapons at the crowd before making their getaway, only to be pursued down the road by dozens of unarmed protesters, livestreamed video footage from the scene showed.

Meanwhile, supporters of shooting victim Tsang Chi-kin gathered in his home district of Tsuen Wan, calling for the abolition of the current police force.

"Disband the police! Delay no more!" the crowd chanted, as well as "Come on, Kin lad!"

Metal baton or plastic pipe?

Police once more defended the officer's decision to fire at Tsang, who is recovering from emergency surgery after the bullet pierced his chest, saying he and fellow protesters had attacked officers with metal batons.

But an investigation by a Stand News reporter of the video taken during the aftermath of the shooting found a PVC plastic tube around one meter long that was deliberately left behind by police gathering evidence, who instead carried away a two-meter metal baton that had been brought there by another officer.

Local media also reported that Tsang's shooting came shortly after police guidelines on the use of force during the protests were updated.

An updated version of the police procedures manual published on Sept. 30 said officers were allowed to use their firearms if faced with an attack that intended "to cause death or serious physical injury," rather than by an attacker wielding "deadly force," which was the condition specified in the previous version.

Batons of the type used by some frontline protesters in recent clashes with riot police were also reclassified as 'low-level lethal weapons," instead of "intermediate-grade weapons" in the earlier version, the reports said.

RFA was unable to verify these media reports independently.

But pro-democracy lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said the revisions to the police manual had given officers more latitude for the use of lethal force against protesters.

"This will give frontline police officers more room for interpretation and to use deadly force," Lam said. "If the police force has a monopoly on the use of force in Hong Kong, and now also a monopoly on the right to interpret when force should be used, then the effect will be terrible."

Lam said he is worried, given recent attempts by police to describe laser pens as an "offensive weapon," that a protester could be shot just for shining one on police officers at a protest.

Police associations and pro-Beijing politicians have called for tougher measures, including curfews and other measures under emergency powers legislation.

'Tools of a dictatorship'

But political affairs commentator Liu Ruishao said emergency powers measures could lead to an even greater public backlash against the police and the government.

"The police are basically now tools of a dictatorship, and also its weapons," Liu said. "If they use emergency powers to bring in a mask ban or curfews, this will just lead to a huge backlash in public opinion. It would definitely be [another] evil law."

"Also, if they use emergency powers, then eventually that will curb everybody's freedom to communicate, including that of foreigners doing business in Hong Kong," Liu said. "There will be a cumulative and negative backlash."

Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok said a ban on masks would clearly mark the beginning of Hong Kong's transition into a totalitarian society.

"This will only exacerbate tensions and divisions in Hong Kong," Kwok said. "It will do nothing to resolve the issues at stake."

"Today, a mask ban under emergency powers, tomorrow, an extension of [pre-charge] detention to 96 hours or more," he said. Detention is currently limited to 72 hours without charges being brought.

"Or maybe we'll see people being locked up in San Uk Ling Detention Center for up to 15 days on administrative detention," Kwok said. "Once they start using emergency powers, there is no way to revoke them."

Tsang was among seven people charged Thursday with rioting, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. He also faces two additional counts of attacking two police officers, punishable by up to six months in prison.

Tsang and two others who were hospitalized did not appear in court, although hundreds of people showed up to support him.

More than 1,000 students marched on Thursday at the Chinese University of Hong Kong to support Tsang and in support of the protesters' five demands of full democracy, an amnesty for the thousands of protesters arrested since June, an end to the official description of protesters as "rioters", an independent inquiry into police violence and the formal withdrawal of a legal bill that would enable extradition to mainland China.

Protesters say an earlier pledge by Carrie Lam to formally withdraw the amendments to the extradition bill isn't enough to end protests without the other four demands being met too.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Lu Xi for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 2, 2019


Shooting of Teenage Protester Sparks Outcry in Hong Kong, Internationally

Schoolchildren in Hong Kong boycotted class on Wednesday in protest at the shooting of a teenage protester — who is recovering from emergency surgery in intensive care — by police during anti-China protests on China's National Day on Oct. 1.

More than 100 students from the secondary school Tsuen Wan Public Ho Chuen Yiu Memorial College protested there on Wednesday morning at the shooting of one of its students, who was identified by his surname Tsang, during clashes with riot police in his home district.


A protester holds a placard that reads'you can kill the dreamer but you can't kill the dream' in a march in Hong Kong on Oct. 2, 2019, amid anger at the police shooting the previous day of a teenage protester. (Photo: AFP)

A protester holds a placard that reads "you can kill the dreamer but you can't kill the dream" in a march in Hong Kong on Oct. 2, 2019, amid anger at the police shooting the previous day of a teenage protester. (Photo: AFP)


Shouting: "Go Ho Chuen Yiu! Reclaim Hong Kong! Revolution in our time!" the students hit out at the recent escalation in police violence, which has also drawn widespread criticism from rights organizations.

A classmate of Tsang's surnamed Tam said he is a kind person who was always sincere in his dealings with others, and hit out at the police officer for shooting him at close range.

"This violence is very serious and unprecedented," she said. "Now they have shot a person with live ammunition, I feel that this sets a precedent, and we can't rule out further escalation in police actions."

"But the police use of force was already disproportionate; they have been hammering us from the start, so they could do even more unacceptable things and directly endanger our lives," she said.

A local resident who gave only a nickname Meggie said police are now blindly abusing their power, and are out of control.

"There is too much power wielded by police, and people get blinded by that, just as they do with money," she said. "They if they point a gun at protesters, they have to move, and if not, they will shoot them."

Anonymous protesters held a press conference outside the school, describing Tsang's shooting, and saying that Hong Kong was now "at war."

"Judging from the footage shot by different media, the special squad officer was fully armed, and wouldn't have been much harmed by any resistance put up by the fighters," a spokesman said.

"What's more, the special squad officer took the initiative to rush forward when [protesters] were retreating, and he also took the initiative to shoot at very close range," he said.

"This violates not just the principle of self-defense, but also indicated the intention to murder the protester."

Pro-Beijing camp defends shooting

But former Hong Kong leader and adviser to the ruling Chinese Communist Party government in Beijing, Leung Chun-ying, said Tsang was a rioter who got what was coming to him, and called on his school to consider expelling him.

His views were echoed by many pro-Beijing members of Hong Kong's Legislative Council (LegCo).

After discussions with alumni, the school authorities said they wouldn't revoke Tsang's diploma nor expel him, but they stopped short of condemning the shooting.

"We are now mainly engaged in helping students deal with their emotions," principal Tse Yun-ming told reporters. "This school will definitely protect its students."

Police reiterated their defense of the shooting on Wednesday, saying that it was "legal and reasonable."

But pro-democracy lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said the conduct of the police as seen on widely published video footage was "absolutely unacceptable."

"After they hurt him, the police didn't even assess his injury; they just left him bleeding on the ground," Lam said. "And after leaving without first aid for three minutes on the ground, [they didn't] even check to see if he was dead."

"This is completely unacceptable."

'Restraint and a de-escalation'

U.K. foreign secretary Dominic Raab said the use of live ammunition was "disproportionate" to the threat faced by the officers.

"Whilst there is no excuse for violence, the use of live ammunition is disproportionate, and only risks inflaming the situation," Raab said in a statement.

"We need to see restraint and a de-escalation from both protesters and the Hong Kong authorities," he added, echoing remarks from E.U. spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic.

"While initial positive steps to engage members of the public and various sectors of society in dialogue have been taken, further efforts are needed to restore trust," Kocijancic said. "More than three months since the protests began, the right to assembly and the right to protest peacefully must continue to be upheld."

London-based rights group Amnesty International has repeatedly called for an independent and effective investigation into police use of force since protests escalated in early June, including alleged torture and other ill-treatment in detention.

"Failure to address previous excessive use of force contributed to the current escalation in violence," the group said, citing United Nations guidelines as saying that firearms may only be used to protect against an imminent threat to life or of serious injury.

In Washington, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hit out at the use of violence in a statement marking the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

“On the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), we should pause to recognize the many millions of lives lost under Chinese communist rule," McConnell said.

"I especially condemn the continued use of violence against democratic activists in Hong Kong," he said. "It is darkly fitting that on the 70th anniversary of the PRC, its agents would be reduced to using force against protesters in Hong Kong who seek to preserve basic personal freedoms. The [Chinese Communist Party] has always squashed dissent with force."

Reported by Man Hoi-tsan for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Gao Feng for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


October 1, 2019


Hong Kong Police Fire Live Ammunition At Protesters, Boy Shot in Chest

A teenager has been taken to hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest following an apparent shooting by police with live ammunition during mass anti-China protests in Hong Kong on the 70th anniversary of Chinese Communist Party rule, according to social media reports and live video footage.

Multiple media reports and social media accounts posted video showing protesters flailing at armed riot police with batons and sticks during clashes in the New Territories town of Tsuen Wan.



The officer is shown in the video pointing a handgun at the boy, a secondary school student, before a shot rings out and the boy slumps to the ground.

Social media posts from the scene on Tsuen Wan's Hau Tei Square said the boy, who is believed to be around 15 years old, was conscious, and shouted out that his chest hurt, while bleeding from a wound to the chest.

"My chest hurts a lot," the boy shouts in the video along with his full name and identity card number before being taken away by ambulance.

Other video clips showed that he had been part of a group of young, masked protesters who were beating an officer on the ground with rods and sticks, and that the shooting had happened shortly afterwards.

The video shows the officer apparently firing from very close range, before police leave the scene rapidly as a Molotov cocktail is flung in their direction.

Tam Man-kei, Hong Kong director of the London-based rights group Amnesty International, called for an immediate inquiry into the shooting, saying the teenager had been left "fighting for his life."

"The shooting of a protester marks an alarming development in the Hong Kong police’s response to protests," Tam said.

"The Hong Kong authorities must launch a prompt and effective investigation into the sequence of events that left a teenager fighting for his life in hospital."

Tam called on the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam to "urgently review" its policing strategy.

The Hong Kong Police Force confirmed that the shooting had taken place.

"As an officer felt his life was under serious threat, he fired a round at the assailant to save his own life and his colleagues’ lives," the police said in a brief video statement.


Police detain demonstrators in the Sha Tin district of Hong Kong, as violent demonstrations take place in the city on the National Day holiday to mark the 70th anniversary of communist China's founding, October 1, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Police detain demonstrators in the Sha Tin district of Hong Kong, as violent demonstrations take place in the city on the National Day holiday to mark the 70th anniversary of communist China's founding, October 1, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


Amnesty has repeatedly called for an independent and effective investigation into police use of force since protests escalated in early June, including alleged torture and other ill-treatment in detention.

"Failure to address previous excessive use of force contributed to the current escalation in violence," the group said, citing United Nationsguidelines as saying that firearms may only be used to protect against an imminent threat to life or of serious injury.

A spokesman for the Hospital Authority confirmed that a male was in critical condition and had been treated for injuries at Princess Margaret Hospital, but declined to give further details.

"There was a male taken to Princess Margaret Hospital who was critical," the spokesman said. "I don't know his age, though, and I'm not allowed to give out specific injuries of patient's injuries."

RTHK said the boy was later transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for emergency surgery.

As of 5.15 p.m. local time, 15 people had been taken to hospital with injuries, the authority said. One protester was seen lying on the ground with injuries near a taxi, which witnesses said had driven into him.

Live rounds were also heard in Yaumatei district after protesters surrounded a group of officers and began beating them, RTHK reported.

Live TV footage showed two officers with head injuries getting into a police van, as a Molotov cocktail is thrown at the vehicle, it said.

"Riot police were seen pointing their guns at protesters at close range and the crowd then fled towards Nathan Road," the station reported, adding that two masked men in plain clothes were seen joining the police, suggesting that they had been operating under cover during the melee.

Dozens of arrests

Protesters clashed with police across Hong Kong, while dozens of subway stations were shut down by the Mass Transit Railway Corp., including the entire Tsuen Wan line, local media reported.

Police made dozens of arrests, and also pepper-sprayed passers-by and bystanders, chasing them away from the scene with batons, according to live-streamed video footage. Local residents frequently shouted insults at police, including calling them a "criminal gang."


Protesters walk on an image of Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Causeway Bay area in Hong Kong, Oct. 1, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Protesters walk on an image of Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Causeway Bay area in Hong Kong, Oct. 1, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


As the ruling Chinese Communist Party celebrated 70 years in power with a massive military parade in Beijing, Hong Kong police were warning residents not to go out, amid widespread "rioting acts" across the city.

"Rioters have started fires and committed mass property damage, injuring many people," the police said in a public video announcement posted to their official Facebook page.

"The police urgently appeal to every member of the public to stay in safe places, avoid going outdoors and stay tuned to the latest situation," the statement said.

Jimmy Sham, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, whose application for an approved march on Tuesday was turned down by police, said the refusal to allow a peaceful protest to go ahead had coincided with a deteriorating human rights situation in Hong Kong.

"Citizens have come up with their own response to the ban on the Oct. 1 march, and are making their demands known," Sham said on the eve of the march. "All the Civil Human Rights Front can do is tell citizens to stay safe, from the bottom of our hearts."

Protests that erupted in June in against plans by Hong Kong's government to allow extradition to mainland China have grown into a broader movement, even after Lam pledged to scrap the plan by withdrawing the planned legislation. The protesters' five key demands are: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung, Wong Lok-to, Gao Feng and Zheng Chongsheng for RFA's Cantonese and Mandarin Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


September 29, 2019


Five Years After Occupy Central, Street Battles Rage in Hong Kong

Five years after the Chinese Communist Party's decree ruling out democracy sparked the Occupy Central movement, black-clad protesters took on riot police in a series of pitched battles on the streets of Hong Kong.

Police apparently fired at least one round of live ammunition, according to video clips posted to social media, and were repeatedly pictured waving pistols at the crowd, while water cannon, beanbag bullets and tear gas were repeatedly deployed against protesters who had occupied main highways in downtown Hong Kong.


Protesters are seen in tear gas during clashes with police following an unsanctioned march through Hong Kong on Sept. 29, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Protesters are seen in tear gas during clashes with police following an unsanctioned march through Hong Kong on Sept. 29, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


"Now Hong Kong is a genuine police state," former pro-democracy lawmaker Nathan Law tweeted on Sunday.

"Undercover police are beating protesters and using firearms," he wrote in a comment attached to a photo of a gun-wielding officer published in the Chinese-language Ming Pao newspaper.

Law's political party Demosisto said pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu had been pepper-sprayed in the face after he tried to plead with riot police not to use violence against protesters.

And Hong Kong Social Worker General Union leader Hui Lai-Ming was pushed to the ground and arrested as he was leaving the area in response to police warnings, the union said in a statement on Facebook.

Meanwhile, protesters built bonfires and threw Molotov cocktails at officers, retreating as police fought back with water cannon containing high levels of pepper spray and tear gas on normally bustling city streets.

The Mass Transit Rail Corp. shut down stations in Admiralty, near government headquarters, where protesters had earlier flung bricks and other projectiles.

Wanchai, Causeway Bay and Tin Hau stations were also closed after clashes broke out in those districts.

Riot police fired the first rounds of tear gas at 2.22 p.m. in Causeway Bay near the Sogo department store, as protesters gathered for a "global march against totalitarianism" that saw rallies in solidarity in a number of international cities.

Batons to the feet

At Causeway Bay station, large numbers of demonstrators were subdued on the ground, their hands tied with cable ties, while some officers used their batons to beat their feet.

One demonstrator was left twitching after a fall to the ground, and received first aid.

A journalist for an Indonesian publication suffered an eye injury while covering protests in Wanchai, after being hit by what was believed to be a rubber or beanbag bullet fired by police, who were chasing protesters across a pedestrian footbridge near Revenue Tower.

Government broadcaster RTHK said its reporters had also witnessed a series of attacks by special forces, known as the "raptors," on people at the protest in Admiralty.

"RTHK reporters at the scene reported seeing around two dozen people subdued and arrested in Admiralty," the station said. "Many of the detainees were forced to the ground with baton strikes by officers. Some were seen to be bleeding heavily."

Later on Sunday, protesters also reportedly beat up two men in Wanchai and Causeway Bay districts, only breaking off with the intervention of the protest movement's first aid squad, who took at least one of the men to safety.

Some protesters also smashed up a taxi using rods to break the shield, headlights, and other parts of the vehicle, forcing open the bonnet after the taxi reportedly menaced a group of journalists.

Journalists were also attacked with pepper spray and water cannon in clashes since Saturday, social media footage showed.

Saturday's demonstration, which had police approval, saw protesters burn the flag of the ruling Chinese Communist Party rather than the national flag of China, following a singing rally in downtown Tamar Park to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2014 pro-democracy movement, which ended without achieving its demand for fully democratic elections.

Chipping away at rights

Sunday's street battles came as Chinese president Xi Jinping presented the former leader of Hong Kong, Tung Chee-hwa, with an honorary title ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Tung, who stepped down without finishing his second term in office in 2003 after half a million people marched to protest subversion and sedition legislation ordered by Beijing, was awarded a medal by Xi for his "outstanding contribution to the One Country and Two Systems principle," under which Hong Kong was promised the continuation of its traditional freedoms after the 1997 handover.

London-based rights group Amnesty International has called the response of the Hong Kong police force to the protesters' civil disobedience and political vandalism "outrageous" and "repressive."

The group said that while an independent and effective investigation into police actions would be a vital first step to resolving the standoff, the protests came after a "steady erosion" of rights and freedoms in the city long before Lam put forward plans to allow extradition to mainland China.

It said both the Hong Kong government and the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing had been chipping away at the traditional rights and freedoms that Hong Kong was promised for years.

Protests that erupted in June in Hong Kong against plans by the city's government to allow extradition to mainland China have grown into a broader movement, even after Lam pledged to scrap the plan by withdrawing the planned legislation.

The protesters' five key demands are: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.

Reported by RFA's Cantonese and Mandarin Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


September 27, 2019


Young Hong Kong Protesters Say Force Necessary to Counter Police Violence

Two members of the Hong Kong protest movement have spoken out about what made them don black clothing and protective gear to fight back against well-equipped riot police at the movement's front line.

"Suddenly, there was this young boy in a yellow helmet who fell to the ground right next to me, bleeding from the head," a 16-year-old protester who gave only a nickname, A Jan, told RFA. "I thought then that the police are supposed to protect citizens, so why were they being so violent towards us?"


People take pictures of a statue during a rally at Edinburgh Place in Hong Kong to protest allegations of police brutality made by democracy activists who were held at the San Uk Ling detention center last month, Sept. 27, 2019.  (Photo: AFP)

People take pictures of a statue during a rally at Edinburgh Place in Hong Kong to protest allegations of police brutality made by democracy activists who were held at the San Uk Ling detention center last month, Sept. 27, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


"Now Hong Kong is a genuine police state," former pro-democracy lawmaker Nathan Law tweeted on Sunday.

"Undercover police are beating protesters and using firearms," he wrote in a comment attached to a photo of a gun-wielding officer published in the Chinese-language Ming Pao newspaper.

Law's political party Demosisto said pro-democracy lawmaker Eddie Chu had been pepper-sprayed in the face after he tried to plead with riot police not to use violence against protesters.

And Hong Kong Social Worker General Union leader Hui Lai-Ming was pushed to the ground and arrested as he was leaving the area in response to police warnings, the union said in a statement on Facebook.

Meanwhile, protesters built bonfires and threw Molotov cocktails at officers, retreating as police fought back with water cannon containing high levels of pepper spray and tear gas on normally bustling city streets.

The Mass Transit Rail Corp. shut down stations in Admiralty, near government headquarters, where protesters had earlier flung bricks and other projectiles.

Wanchai, Causeway Bay and Tin Hau stations were also closed after clashes broke out in those districts.

Riot police fired the first rounds of tear gas at 2.22 p.m. in Causeway Bay near the Sogo department store, as protesters gathered for a "global march against totalitarianism" that saw rallies in solidarity in a number of international cities.

Batons to the feet

At Causeway Bay station, large numbers of demonstrators were subdued on the ground, their hands tied with cable ties, while some officers used their batons to beat their feet.

One demonstrator was left twitching after a fall to the ground, and received first aid.

A journalist for an Indonesian publication suffered an eye injury while covering protests in Wanchai, after being hit by what was believed to be a rubber or beanbag bullet fired by police, who were chasing protesters across a pedestrian footbridge near Revenue Tower.

Government broadcaster RTHK said its reporters had also witnessed a series of attacks by special forces, known as the "raptors," on people at the protest in Admiralty.

"RTHK reporters at the scene reported seeing around two dozen people subdued and arrested in Admiralty," the station said. "Many of the detainees were forced to the ground with baton strikes by officers. Some were seen to be bleeding heavily."

Later on Sunday, protesters also reportedly beat up two men in Wanchai and Causeway Bay districts, only breaking off with the intervention of the protest movement's first aid squad, who took at least one of the men to safety.

Some protesters also smashed up a taxi using rods to break the shield, headlights, and other parts of the vehicle, forcing open the bonnet after the taxi reportedly menaced a group of journalists.

Journalists were also attacked with pepper spray and water cannon in clashes since Saturday, social media footage showed.

Saturday's demonstration, which had police approval, saw protesters burn the flag of the ruling Chinese Communist Party rather than the national flag of China, following a singing rally in downtown Tamar Park to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2014 pro-democracy movement, which ended without achieving its demand for fully democratic elections.

Chipping away at rights

Sunday's street battles came as Chinese president Xi Jinping presented the former leader of Hong Kong, Tung Chee-hwa, with an honorary title ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Tung, who stepped down without finishing his second term in office in 2003 after half a million people marched to protest subversion and sedition legislation ordered by Beijing, was awarded a medal by Xi for his "outstanding contribution to the One Country and Two Systems principle," under which Hong Kong was promised the continuation of its traditional freedoms after the 1997 handover.

London-based rights group Amnesty International has called the response of the Hong Kong police force to the protesters' civil disobedience and political vandalism "outrageous" and "repressive."

The group said that while an independent and effective investigation into police actions would be a vital first step to resolving the standoff, the protests came after a "steady erosion" of rights and freedoms in the city long before Lam put forward plans to allow extradition to mainland China.

It said both the Hong Kong government and the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing had been chipping away at the traditional rights and freedoms that Hong Kong was promised for years.

Protests that erupted in June in Hong Kong against plans by the city's government to allow extradition to mainland China have grown into a broader movement, even after Lam pledged to scrap the plan by withdrawing the planned legislation.

The protesters' five key demands are: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.

Reported by RFA's Cantonese and Mandarin Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


September 26, 2019


Town Hall Speakers Castigate Hong Kong's Carrie Lam Over Police Violence

Thousands of protesters gathered outside Hong Kong's Queen Elizabeth Stadium on Thursday calling on the city's leader Carrie Lam, who was meeting with randomly selected members of public inside, to meet the five demands of the pro-democracy movement.

Holding up splayed hands to indicate the number of demands they want met by Lam's administration, the protesters also chanted "Five demands: not one less!" and obscenities at police as the meeting progressed.


Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam meets with randomly selected members of public for a dialogue on the city's political crisis in Queen Elizabeth Stadium, Sept. 26, 2019.  (Photo: AP)

Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam meets with randomly selected members of public for a dialogue on the city's political crisis in Queen Elizabeth Stadium, Sept. 26, 2019. (Photo: AP)


The protesters' five key demands are: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.

Protesters have repeatedly said they won't give up until all five conditions are met, rejecting calls for a dialogue from chief executive Carrie Lam, who has already pledged to formally withdraw proposed amendments to the city's extradition laws.

Inside the stadium, which had been cordoned off by riot police equipped with tear gas earlier in the day, randomly selected speakers were given just six minutes to speak to Lam and senior officials, with many supporting growing public calls for an independent public inquiry, and blaming police violence for the ongoing stand-off between the chief executive and protesters.

One speaker said Lam herself was the biggest factor behind the escalation in clashes between protesters and police. "You must step down," the speaker said. "Meet the five demands -- not one less!"

Another took issue with Lam's insistence that complaints against police be handled by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which has no investigative powers and relies on police investigating themselves.

"Hong Kong people have no faith in the IPCC," the speaker said, pointing out that it is impossible to complain against police officers who don't show their warrant numbers. "Are you willing to order police to display their warrant numbers, wherever, on their uniform, their helmets, wherever?"

A speaker identified as B39 said: "The government makes me feel that it goes its own way no matter what the citizens said.

"I support independent probe, particularly into 7.21 Yuen Long attack. Some lawmakers incite indiscriminate violence against the citizens but they still have a seat in the Legislature," the speaker said, in comments translated and posted to Twitter by freelance journalist @XingqiSu.

Triad thug attack still angers

Attacks on protesters and passers-by alike by triad-linked thugs in white T-shirts in Yuen Long MTR station on July 21 have fueled widespread public anger, ensuring ongoing support for the protest movement.

"What took the police so long to go to Yuen Long MTR station from their station in Yuen Long?" speaker C47 was quoted by @XingqiSu as saying, while speaker B13 demanded: "Why did the police handle the situations so differently when they were [facing] the white clad mob and [when faced with] citizens? I can only call them licensed thugs."

Lam told the meeting that her administration is largely to blame for the escalation of protests since early June, but made no concessions to the five demands, saying she had invited foreign experts to oversee investigations into police complaints by the force itself.

Critics have also hit out at her op-ed published by the New York Times on Wednesday, which made claims about the "violence" employed by "rioters" without addressing widespread criticism of police violence and failure to protect protesters from attack, not just from protesters, but also from foreign governments, journalists, international rights groups and pro-democracy lawmakers.

"I reject the use of violence to achieve any political, economic or social outcomes," Lam wrote. "Violence is not among the actions or values that most people associate with Hong Kong, which has a reputation as a safe and welcoming city."

"The radical actions of some rioters cannot dictate how to steer Hong Kong through its current difficulties."

On Tuesday, London-based rights group Amnesty International called the response of the Hong Kong police force to the protesters' civil disobedience and vandalism "outrageous" and "repressive."

The group said that while an independent and effective investigation into police actions would be a vital first step to resolving the standoff, the protests came after a "steady erosion" of rights and freedoms in the city long before Lam put forward plans to allow extradition to mainland China.

It said both the Hong Kong government and the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing had been chipping away at the special status that Hong Kong is supposed to enjoy regarding the protection of human rights for years.

The Chinese government under President Xi Jinping has increasingly interpreted the ordinary exercise of rights as a threat to Chinese sovereignty and security, the report said.

Reported by Lu Xi for RFA's Mandarin and Cantonese Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


September 25, 2019


Riot Police Arrest Protesters Who Surrounded Hong Kong Subway Station

Authorities in Hong Kong on Wednesday once more shut down a major regional subway station after protesters gathered there, local media reported.

The crowd gathered at Shatin station in the New Territories after reports that security guards at the station had mistreated a young man who jumped a ticket barrier. Some spray-painted obscenities on the glass barriers.


Hong Kong march organizers announce plans for a mass demonstration on Sept. 29 to 'resist totalitarianism,' Sept. 25, 2019. (Screen shot from video)

Hong Kong march organizers announce plans for a mass demonstration on Sept. 29 to 'resist totalitarianism,' Sept. 25, 2019. (Screen shot from video)


Riot police charged into the station, making several arrests, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

At the United Nations in New York, foreign minister Wang Yi meanwhile hit out at Washington after U.S. President Donald Trump called on Beijing to honor a treaty made ahead of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to Chinese rule.

"The world fully expects that the Chinese government will honor its binding treaty [and] protect Hong Kong's freedom and legal system and democratic ways of life," Trump told the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

"How China chooses to handle the situation will say a great deal about its role in the world and the future," he said.

Wang Yi told the U.S. to stop interfering in China's internal affairs.

"Both sides must respect each other’s territorial sovereignty, social systems and development paths, and not attempt to impose their will on each other," he told journalists at the U.N.

Wang defended the use of force by the Hong Kong police, saying it was necessary for the authorities to restore order in the city.

Criticism stepped up

Hui Ching, research director at the Hong Kong Zhiming Institute, said Trump's administration appeared to have stepped up its criticism of the handling of the Hong Kong protests, which began as a campaign against extradition to mainland China, and broadened into a pro-democracy movement.

"Pro-Beijing, pro-establishment forces in Hong Kong have a very serious conflict with mainstream society, especially the young people, and their more Western values," Hui said.

"The other factor is of course Sino-U.S. relations, which aren't exactly friendly right now, so the U.S. has become more willing to make its concerns known," he said.

He said Trump's speech was a likely bellwether for bipartisan voting intentions for the forthcoming Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, both in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

"It is more likely that the Hong Kong Bill of Rights and Democracy will, under the leadership of the majority leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and the combined forces of the Republican and Democratic parties, pass without any changes to its original content."

"Trump's response to the situation in Hong Kong is tantamount to a signal to members of Congress over the vote," he said.

Unofficial anthem

Back in Hong Kong, activists unfurled a giant banner at a mall, performing a mass rendition of the unofficial anthem of the movement, Glory to Hong Kong.

The performance was the latest in a series of flash mob events to sing the song in shopping malls across the city.

Pro-Beijing groups have also gathered in malls to sing the national anthem and other patriotic songs.

The protesters' five key demands are: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.

Protesters have repeatedly said they won't give up until all five conditions are met, rejecting calls for a dialogue from chief executive Carrie Lam, who has also pledged to formally withdraw proposed amendments to the city's extradition laws.

March organizers said they are planning a mass demonstration to mark the fifth anniversary of the 2014 Occupy Central movement on Saturday, with no objection issued by police.

An anonymous spokesman for the protesters called on people to come out in a global protest planned for Sunday, to "resist totalitarianism" in the form of the Chinese Communist Party regime.

The action, which will also focus on mass rights violations in Tibet and Xinjiang, will seek to draw attention to Beijing as "an enemy of democracy and freedom," the spokesman said.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


September 22, 2019


Police Fire More Tear Gas in Hong Kong During Weekend of Protests

Hong Kong police fired tear gas for the second day of clashes that saw protesters set fire to barricades and throw Molotov cocktails and bricks at police following earlier peaceful, anti-government demonstrations.

Protesters set fire to barricades outside a shopping mall in the New Territories town of Shatin on Sunday, lobbing bricks and a Molotov cocktail back at police after tear gas was fired.


Police officers push through a barricade of vandalized television screens, set up by protesters to block an entrance to the Kowloon MTR station in Hong Kong, Sept. 22, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Police officers push through a barricade of vandalized television screens, set up by protesters to block an entrance to the Kowloon MTR station in Hong Kong, Sept. 22, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


The clashes followed an earlier, peaceful sit-in in the glitzy New Town Plaza mall, which targeted mainland Chinese brands and Maxim's, a local cake chain that had criticized the protest movement.

Police arrested a 21-year-old man for "desecrating the national flag" after protesters danced in a line, trampling a flag of the People's Republic of China underfoot, before throwing it in a trash can into the nearby Shing Mun river, live video footage showed.

The Mass Transit Rail Corp. shut down Shatin, Tsing Yi, Kwai Fong and Kowloon stations after some protesters vandalized ticket machines in protest at the corporation's willingness to shut down train services in recent weeks to prevent street protests in different parts of the city from swelling.

The city's Airport Authority cut back transportation to the international airport, citing "safety concerns" after previous mass protests there, with airport express trains running a reduced service.

Security at the airport was tight on Sunday, with a heavy police presence in a number of subway stations too, local media reported.

Thousands of people flooded into Yoho Mall in the New Territories distict of Yuen Long to mark two months since vicious attacks by triad-linked thugs in white T-shirts on protesters and passengers in and around Yuen Long MTR station.

Police officers who showed up at the scene were jeered by protesters, who are angry at police for responding slowly and not moving in to prevent the attacks that left dozens injured on July 21.

"The main reason for most of the clashes is that the police have been arresting people for no reason," Yuen said. "They do this so as to provoke peaceful demonstrators."

Barricades and blocked stations

Meanwhile, Patrick Nip, the constitutional and mainland affairs secretary in the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam, was surrounded by around 50 protesters on his way to a Beijing-sponsored reception, who threw traffic cones, drinks, sandbags and trash cans at his car.

One protester struck the windshield with a metal pole, cracking the glass, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, protesters in Tseung Kwan O district broke windows in the local police station, setting up barricades in the street outside and spraying police officers with water from a nearby residential building.

Sunday's renewed protests came after protesters blocked a part of Kowloon's Nathan Road on Saturday night, as protesters gathered at Prince Edward MTR station, scene of attacks on unarmed passengers by riot police earlier this month.

Riot police stood by as protesters placed flowers at makeshift shrines to unknown victims who are rumored to have died in the attack, then removed the shrines, only for protesters to rebuild them.

Police have repeatedly denied that any deaths occurred in the Aug. 31 raid on stationary trains and on nearby platforms.

Protests that erupted in June in Hong Kong against plans by the city's government to allow extradition to mainland China have grown into a broader movement, even after Lam pledged to scrap the plan.

The protesters' five key demands are: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin and Cantonese Services, and by Shi Shan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


September 20, 2019


Hong Kong Police 'Torture', Mistreat Detained Anti-Extradition Protesters: Amnesty International

London-based rights group Amnesty International has hit out at the Hong Kong police over the "torture and other ill-treatment" of anti-extradition protesters in detention, as well as the reckless and indiscriminate use of force.

The group called for a prompt and independent investigation into police actions since protests escalated in early June, after gathering testimonies from more than 20 arrestees, as well as lawyers, health-care workers, and others.


Hong Kong police subdue a pro-democracy protester in an Aug. 11, 2019 photo. (Photo: AFP)

Hong Kong police subdue a pro-democracy protester in an Aug. 11, 2019 photo. (Photo: AFP)


It said police violations seemed to have escalated throughout the course of the anti-extradition movement, which has gripped the city with strikes, sit-ins, mass rallies, human chains, and marches in recent months.

"Hong Kong’s security forces have engaged in a disturbing pattern of reckless and unlawful tactics against people during the protests," Amnesty International's East Asia director Nicholas Bequelin said in a statement.

"This has included arbitrary arrests and retaliatory violence against arrested persons in custody, some of which has amounted to torture," he said, adding: "The use of force was therefore clearly excessive, violating international human rights law."

Police have arrested more than 1,300 people during the protests against planned amendments to extradition laws that would permit the rendition of alleged criminal suspects to face trial in mainland China.

Some detained protesters were severely beaten in custody and suffered other ill-treatment amounting to torture, the report said, with police violence occurring mostly before and during arrest.

"The abuse appears to have been meted out as 'punishment' for talking back or appearing uncooperative," it said.

'I couldn't breathe'

One man detained at a police station following his arrest at a protest in the New Territories in August told Amnesty International researchers: "I felt my legs hit with something really hard. Then one [officer] flipped me over and put his knees on my chest. I felt the pain in my bones and couldn’t breathe. I tried to shout but I couldn’t breathe and couldn’t talk."

The man was later hospitalized for several days with a bone fracture and internal bleeding, the report said.

And a man who was arrested in Sham Shui Po last month was threatened with electric shocks to his genitals after he refused to unlock his phone for inspection.

The same man witnessed police officers force a boy to shine a laser pen into his own eye for about 20 seconds.

"It seems he used the laser pen to shine at the police station," the man said. "They said, ‘If you like to point the pen at us so much, why don’t you do it to yourself?"

The report found that the special tactical unit known as "Raptors" were apparently responsible for the worst violence.

And almost every arrested person interviewed described being beaten with batons and fists during their arrest, even when they posed no resistance.

A young woman arrested at a protest in Sheung Wan in July was one of many protesters who described being clubbed from behind with a police baton as she was running away, before being knocked to the ground and beaten even after her hands were zip-tied.

"Immediately I was beaten to the ground. Three of them got on me and pressed my face hard to the ground," a man arrested at a protest in Tsimshatsui told researchers.

"I started to have difficulty breathing, and I felt severe pain in my left ribcage," he said.

The man spent two days in hospital, where he was treated for a fractured rib, among other injuries.

In more than 85 percent of cases, arrestees were hospitalized as a result of their treatment during and after arrest.

Arbitrary, unlawful arrests

The report also cited several examples of arbitrary and unlawful arrest, including the denial of access to lawyers, family members, and medical care to detainees.

The report also found that police have had a reasonable basis to arrest some protesters, including for throwing bricks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails at police; for property damage; and, in at least a few instances, for assaulting a police officer.

But their use of force in response had been disproportionate, and failed to minimize injury or preserve the right to life, it said.

"The use of beatings and pepper spray on individuals who are already in custody amounts to torture and other ill-treatment," it said.

Police abuse continued in detention for some people, including in police vehicles, police stations, and other holding facilities.

"Several such cases amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, absolutely forbidden under international law," the report found.

In one incident, a female police officer forced a woman to strip completely and go through a full body search after she talked back to the officer. The officer also mocked and belittled the woman, it said.

'Only one mindset left'

Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam was trying to use police violence to suppress the anti-extradition movement, rather than dealing with its political demands.

"In this situation, the conflict between the demonstrators and the police is getting more and more serious, and the violence is getting worse," Tam said.

"We have seen that the police have forgotten what they originally wanted to achieve, and that there is only one mindset left: to put down the protests," he said.

Chief Superintendent John Tse said the police had contacted some of the victims over their testimony.

He dismissed as nonsense reports of sexual assaults from female detainees, and said the case of the woman injured by what is believed to have been a rubber bullet was "still under investigation."

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Lau Siu-fung for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


September 19, 2019


Hong Kong Anti-Extradition Movement Gets Boost From U.S.

In a strong show of support for the three-month-old anti-extradition and pro-democracy movement, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representives, Nancy Pelosi, has pledged to move ahead speedily with the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act that could see sanctions imposed on officials found to have deprived the city's residents of their human rights.

Speaking in Washington after hearing from a delegation of Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigners including Joshua Wong and Cantopop star Denise Ho, Pelosi said that U.S. government policy shouldn't be driven by commercial interests alone.


Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong (L), Nathan Law (2nd L) and Hong Kong Cantopop singer and activist Denise Ho (C, bottom) leave after a hearing before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China in Washington, Sept. 17, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong (L), Nathan Law (2nd L) and Hong Kong Cantopop singer and activist Denise Ho (C, bottom) leave after a hearing before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China in Washington, Sept. 17, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


"If we do not speak up because of commercial interests in support of human rights in China, we lose all moral authority to speak up for them in any other place in the world," Pelosi told journalists after the hearing.

She said the Hong Kong protesters were "challenging the conscience, not only of the Chinese government, but the conscience of the world."

There is strong bipartisan support for the bill, which will require the U.S. government to stop according the city separate trading status if its promised freedoms and political autonomy continue to be eroded under Chinese rule.

The bill also seeks to "establish punitive measures against government officials in Hong Kong or mainland China who are responsible for suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong."

Pelosi said the pledge by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam to formally withdraw the widely-hated extradition bill when the city's Legislative Council (LegCo) reconvenes in October was a welcome development, but "not enough."

"We all know it's not enough. Much more must be done," she said.

Political reform demands

The anti-extradition protesters are also demanding that Lam release all protesters without charge, that the government stop describing the protests as riots or protesters as violent.

They also want the government to set up an independent public inquiry into police use of tear gas, batons, rubber and textile bullets, and batons to attack crowds of largely peaceful demonstrators, and their failure to properly pursue the perpetrators of bloody attacks by triad-linked thugs on protesting crowds.

And they want Lam to formally dissolve LegCo and implement political reforms leading to fully democratic elections with public nominations both to the legislature and for the city's chief executive.

Lam has refused all along to countenance such concessions, preferring to focus on the economic costs of the protest movement without addressing the political crisis that sparked it.

Michael McCaul, senior Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the people of Hong Kong that they have the full support of the U.S.

"America stands with you, and America will always support you," McCaul said.

"This is a battle between democracy versus dictatorship, liberty versus tyranny and freedom versus oppression," he said.

"The world will not stand by idly while the Chinese Communist Party continues to commit human rights violations."

A Chinese foreign affairs official in Hong Kong hit out at Pelosi for "blatant interference in the affairs of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and China's affairs" on the pretext of supporting freedom and justice.

'Uphill battle'

Joshua Wong said Wednesday had been "a remarkable day."

But he added: "We will continue our uphill battle until the day we enjoy freedom and democracy."

Denise Ho said the support of U.S. politicians meant that the people of Hong Kong aren't alone.

"This is a message to the Hong Kong people that we are not isolated in this fight," Ho said. "We are in the forefront of this great noble fight for universal values."

"I hope that the 2019 Hong Kong Bill of Rights on Human Rights and Democracy can be passed, so as to encourage other countries to adopt similar measures to monitor the human rights situation in China," she said.

She said the protest movement in Hong Kong isn't only about Hong Kong.

"China is destroying universal values [of freedom of speech, human rights, democracy and judicial independence] in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan as well," Ho said. "The Chinese government uses bullying to eliminate the voices of the people."

Fellow activist and former Hong Kong lawmaker Nathan Law called on protesters to take heart from U.S. support.

"This [bill] will keep the United States concerned about the situation in Hong Kong and make them more willing to help Hong Kong people fight for freedom and democracy," he said.

Hong Kong activists had earlier called on lawmakers to ban the export of U.S.-made police equipment to Hong Kong. Many of the thousands of tear gas canisters fired at protesters by Hong Kong police since early June were U.S. imports.

They also called on lawmakers to monitor Chinese efforts to undermine civil liberties in Hong Kong, which was promised the continuation of its political autonomy and traditional freedoms for 50 years after the 1997 handover to China.

In a separate hearing Wednesday at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Assistant Secretary David Stilwell of the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, voiced support for Hong Kong citizens’ freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly and criticized China’s habit of blaming Washington for the events in the territory.

“Protestors in Hong Kong are only asking Beijing to keep its promises made in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. Beijing has responded by repeatedly blaming the U.S. Government for ‘black hand’ tactics and publically identified U.S. diplomatic personnel, putting them at risk,” he told the panel.

“China has provided no evidence of a ‘black hand behind the protests in Hong Kong, because it doesn’t exist. Hong Kongers took to the streets because Beijing is undermining its own ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework,” added Stilwell.

Reported by Fok Leung-kiu for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Han Jie for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


September 18, 2019


Journalists Protest Hong Kong Police Violence as Racing Canceled

Foreign correspondents working in Hong Kong staged a silent protest on Wednesday over continuing violence against journalists covering the anti-extradition movement, as the city's racing body took the unprecedented step of canceling Wednesday's race meeting in Happy Valley.

Around a dozen members gathered outside the city's Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC) carrying banners that read: "Yes to press freedom, no to violence against journalists."


Members of the Foreign Correspondent's Club (FCC) hold a silent protest in Central district in Hong Kong, Sept. 18, 2019. (Photo: AFP)

Members of the Foreign Correspondent's Club (FCC) hold a silent protest in Central district in Hong Kong, Sept. 18, 2019. (Photo: AFP)


"The FCC is gravely concerned about the growing number of incidents of police violence against journalists who are doing their job covering the protests in Hong Kong," club president Jodi Schneider said in a statement.

"We are holding a silent protest against this violence and any attempts to interfere with media coverage," Scheider said.

"We are also calling for press freedom — for support of our right as journalists to cover the protests; a right provided us under Hong Kong law," she added.

The protest came as the Hong Kong Jockey Club canceled Wednesday night's races after protesters planned to gather there, focusing on Hong Kong Bet, a horse co-owned by pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho, whom many have blamed for triad-linked attacks on train passengers in Yuen Long on July 21.

"The race meeting at Happy Valley Racecourse tonight has been cancelled in view of the imminent threat to the safety of racegoers, jockeys and employees, and to the welfare of racehorses," the Jockey Club said in a statement

“Our concerns are tied to potential social unrest in the vicinity tonight, the very real threat of a disturbance or possible violence," the statement said.

Seeking answers

Ho has also called for disciplinary action against any school children who support the ongoing protests, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

Meanwhile, the FCC is also calling for an independent investigation into all forms of violence and intimidation directed at journalists since the start of the protests in June, and has called for a public response from the Commissioner of Police.

"We want ... answers from the authorities," Schneider said.

The Hong Kong Journalists' Association (HKJA), which has repeatedly detailed complaints made by its members about police violence and restricted access to reporting opportunities, said there is a strong current of opinion among pro-Beijing and pro-police commentators that blames the media for supporting and even aiding the anti extradition movement.

HKJA president Chris Yeung said the psychological stress on journalists from Hong Kong is very intense.

"Why are we so very worried? Because the whole working environment for journalists seems to be getting worse and worse," Yeung said. "On the one hand, we have the police using violence to obstruct reporters, and on the other, some [pro-China] politicians are being very rude to them."

"There is also online abuse, not just bullying [and doxxing] but also threats, which we have seen in a number of cases," he said. "It seems there is an escalating force that is intent on cutting off and suppressing the activities of the media, using various channels."

"This is a huge threat to the media," Yeung said.

Psychological pressure

Mak Wing-fun, a clinical psychologist working for the police, said police officers and their families are suffering similar online abuse and psychological pressure, however.

"As the protesters have escalated their use of force, we have seen some negative news reports as well as some fake news appearing online," Mak said. "All of this has added to the psychological pressure on officers."

"This has caused ruptures in their personal relationships, and the situation is far worse than it was back in the [2014] Occupy Central movement," she said.

Mak said the effects of anti-police sentiment have resulted in extreme psychological pressure for officers' children, after being bullied and called "dog," a word commonly used by protesters to insult the police.

Anson Chan, who was head of Hong Kong's civil service during the British colonial administration that ended in 1997 with the handover to China, said in a BBC interview that chief executive Carrie Lam's recent pledge to formally withdraw planned amendments to the city's extradition laws was unlikely to resolve anything, because of a number of "deep-seated" reasons for the movement.

Protests that erupted in June in Hong Kong against plans by the city's government to allow extradition to mainland China have grown into a broader movement, even after Lam pledged to scrap the plan.

The protesters' five key demands are: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung and Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Gao Feng for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


September 16, 2019


Police Union Calls For Use of Live Ammunition Amid Growing Violence in Hong Kong

A Hong Kong police association called on Monday for the use of live ammunition against anti-extradition demonstrators after some protesters threw Molotov cocktails at police headquarters at the weekend.

The Junior Police Officers' Association said that responding with rubber and beanbag bullets, water cannon and tear gas may not be enough to deter protesters from using the weapons.



"I must remind the radical rioters that the petrol bombs you use are deadly weapons," association chairman Lam Chi-wai was quoted as saying in a statement from the Association.

"Whenever rioters prepare to hurl petrol bombs, officers on the field could very likely interpret that as a life-threatening attack against themselves or others and respond with relevant use of force or weapons, including firearms with real bullets," Lam said.

The association called on its members to "take decisive action" when police officers' lives were under threat.

The statement came after police fired water cannon at a group of protesters who surrounded police headquarters in Wanchai on Sunday, after a largely peaceful protest had dispersed.

Retreating protesters also vandalized two subway stations as they left the scene, an expression of widespread public anger at the Mass Transit Railway Corp. which has cooperated with police by shutting down train services to make it harder for protesters to gather.

The Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor group hit out at the letter, saying it was tantamount to incitement to the use of live ammunition.

But the group warned that any escalation in the use of force by police would likely be matched by a similar escalation in the use of force by demonstrators.

"Responding to demonstrations by force will only exacerbate the crisis in Hong Kong and worsen Hong Kong's political and economic situation, both locally and internationally," the group said.

Dehumanizing terminology by police

It said the union had a history of using dehumanizing terminology when referring to anti-extradition protesters, which it described as hate speech.

"This will not help to restore public confidence in the police," the group said.

Meanwhile, pro-democracy politician Tanya Chan, who was handed an eight-year suspended jail term this year for her role in the 2014 pro-democracy movement, told the United Natios Human Rights Council that the city is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis.

"There is no sign that police will exercise restraint," Chan said. "This is a result of the lack of democracy in Hong Kong, as the government is not held accountable for its endorsement of police abuse."

Chan told the council that the police habitually refer to protesters as "cockroaches," and to violence against them as "pest control."


Police line up at Hong Kong government headquarters after some protesters threw Molotov cocktails, Sept 15, 2019. (Photo: RFA)

Police line up at Hong Kong government headquarters after some protesters threw Molotov cocktails, Sept 15, 2019. (Photo: RFA)


Chan's testimony came amid growing public anger at the response of police to attacks by pro-China thugs on protesters at the weekend, after which police arriving at the scene targeted protesters for arrest, rather than chasing after the attackers.

Photos of officers escorting one attacker away from the scene and hiding him behind one of their shields provoked fury among many social media users, as police are often seen ripping the face masks off young protesters they arrest, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

"Officers were also spotted shaking hands with some of the suspected attackers," it said.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said the police response appeared highly dubious.

"Why didn't they arrest those [attackers] in white T-shirts immediately and take them down to the police station?" Lam said. "There were so many journalists shooting video at the scene; so many witnesses. Even the police themselves were witnesses."

"The police are actually just encouraging people to protect themselves and compounding these assaults, which will lead to more and more serious violence in Hong Kong," he said.

Five key demands

The Hospital Authority said that eight people had been hospitalized by 9.00 p.m. on Sunday, as a result of "public activities." One was in critical condition, while another three were seriously injured, it said.

Pro-democracy activist Figo Chan said protesters shouldn't be arrested merely for protesting.

"I wore the clothing of the civil disobedience movement today to make it plain that I'm not going shopping: I'm protesting," Chan told RFA on Sunday. "This is a right that is enshrined in [Hong Kong's mini-constitution] the Basic Law."

"I have made mental preparation for being arrested and prosecuted ... but even if I am arrested, I know that the people of Hong Kong will keep on coming out in protest," he said.

A protester surnamed Wong, who gave his age as 95, said he joined Sunday's protest as a veteran of the 2014 Occupy Central movement for fully democratic elections.

"So what if I'm tired. I'll take a rest. I'm very happy right now that the young people have woken up," Wong said. "They care more deeply about Hong Kong than we do, although they didn't seem to care much in the past."

"We haven't done enough, young or old, to pay attention or protest ... but if we don't come out in protest now, pretty soon it won't even be an option," he said.

Protests that erupted in June in Hong Kong against plans by the city's government to allow extradition to mainland China have grown into a broader movement, even after the city’s chief executive Carrie Lam pledged to scrap the plan.

The protesters' five key demands are: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung and Tam Siu-yin for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Gao Feng for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


September 6, 2019


Hong Kong Police Fire Tear Gas as Angry Crowd Melts Away Like Water

Hong Kong police on Friday once more fired tear gas at a fleeing crowd outside a subway station on Kowloon, who had gathered to demand the release of surveillance camera footage taken inside the station during a raid by a special police squad last weekend.

Thousands of people had gathered outside Prince Edward MTR Station to call on the Mass Transit Rail (MTR) Corp. to release surveillance footage of an attack by riot police.


Protesters gather outside Edward MTR station in Hong Kong, Sept. 6, 2019. (Screen grab from video)

Protesters gather outside Edward MTR station in Hong Kong, Sept. 6, 2019. (Screen grab from video)


Limited video footage posted to social media from Saturday night showed riot police launching indiscriminate attacks without any apparent lawful excuse and using pepper spray on passengers inside a train compartment or hitting them with batons, according to the Hong Kong Bar Association.

But journalists were forced to leave the station soon after the video was published, and there have been growing public calls for footage of what happened next.

The demands to release the video footage also come amid persistent rumors that somebody died during the attack, something that police have repeatedly denied.

Some protesters held up signs on Friday saying "Everyone has the right to know the truth."

One woman wept and screamed at the police and the MTR station: "Why are you so cruel? These young people are really well-behaved and high-minded!"

Station closes as thousands gather

Prince Edward MTR station was closed at the height of the evening rush hour amid widespread public anger over an attack on train passengers by police in full riot gear last Saturday night, after which dozens of people were arrested.

The MTR said the move was to ensure the safety of passengers and staff.

Thousands of people gathered at a nearby intersection between Nathan Road and Prince Edward Road in the busy shopping district of Mong Kok.

Police cordoned off the station with two-meter high barriers, while officers aimed rifles at the crowd from elevated positions and issued warnings that they would shoot rubber bullets and tear gas, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

Some protesters forced open the MTR station shutters and charged in, vandalizing some equipment, while others remained outside, chanting anti-police slogans. Still others knelt down to beg MTR bosses to release the video footage from inside the station during Saturday night's attack.

The MTR Corp. has pledged to keep "relevant" footage from the station for three years in case it's needed for any investigation. Ordinarily, it would be wiped after 28 days, RTHK reported.

Icarus Wong, a member of the Civil Rights Observer group, said the police have a track record of using excessive force since the anti-extradition protests began in early June.

"There needs to be a full investigation into the incident at Prince Edward MTR station on Aug. 31, to determine who is responsible," Wong told RFA.

Appeal for international help

Earlier in the day, a protester surnamed Leung told a news conference that the movement is now seeking international assistance because of the humanitarian and civil rights crisis in Hong Kong.

The protesters also dismissed Wednesday's pledge by chief executive Carrie Lam to formally withdraw planned amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance that would have allowed extradition to China.

"The announcement that they would withdraw the bill was really just a spoonful of sugar to help the poison go down," Leung said. "This is being viewed in a number of quarters as merely paving the way for an even more brutal crackdown."

"Once more, we would like to say to the international community, many of whom think that Carrie Lam's withdrawal announcement was the first step in re-establishing trust, how can we talk about trust when we are faced with a murderous regime?"

"Just saying she's going to withdraw the bill isn't going to get the people of Hong Kong to withdraw," Leung said. "Neither will it persuade people of good conscience around the world to turn a blind eye to what is happening here in Hong Kong."

Lam on Wednesday announced her government's intention to remove the planned amendments to extradition laws from gazetted draft legislation, a move that can only take place when the city's Legislative Council (LegCo) reopens in October following the storming of the building by protesters on July 1.

But the move was quickly slammed by protesters as "too little, too late" after months of police violence and government inaction.

As well as formal withdrawal of the extradition bill, the anti-extradition movement is also demanding an amnesty for more than 1,200 people arrested during the protests, an end to the description of protesters as "rioters," and fully democratic elections for LegCo and for the post of chief executive.

Reported by Man Hoi-tsan for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


September 4, 2019


Hong Kong Leader's Withdrawal Pledge is 'Too Little, Too Late': Protesters

Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam on Wednesday said her administration will formally withdraw planned legal amendments that could allow extradition to mainland China, in a move that was quickly slammed by protesters as "too little, too late" after months of police violence and government inaction.

Lam announced her government's intention to remove the planned amendments to extradition laws from gazetted draft legislation, a move that can only take place when the city's Legislative Council (LegCo) reopens in October following the storming of the building by protesters on July 1.



"The Fugitive Offenders Bill will be formally withdrawn in order to fully allay public concerns. The Secretary for Security will move a motion according to the Rules of Procedure when the Legislative Council resumes," Lam told journalists on Wednesday.

Lam said the government would "fully support" the work of the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) as it investigates complaints of police brutality and abuse of power over the past three months of protest and mass civil disobedience.

Critics say the IPCC lacks any legal power to carry out an investigation into complaints, which must be carried out by police themselves, and have repeatedly insisted on an independent public inquiry instead.

While Lam repeated her call for dialogue with people "from all walks of life" in Hong Kong, she declined to address the remaining demands of protesters for an amnesty for more than 1,000 people arrested during the protests, an end to the description of protesters as "rioters," and fully democratic elections.

Instead, she repeated Beijing's warning that acts of vandalism targeting the national emblems of the People's Republic of China had "put Hong Kong in a highly vulnerable and dangerous situation."

"The government will strictly enforce the law against all violent and illegal acts," she said.

'Way out of touch'

Joshua Wong, a student leader in the 2014 pro-democracy movement who now is now a leader of the political party Demosisto, said Lam was "way out of touch."

"Carrie Lam's response comes after 7 lives sacrificed, more than 1,200 protestors arrested, in which many are mistreated in police station," Wong wrote via his Twitter account.

"The intensified police brutality in the previous weeks have left an irreversible scar to the entire HK society," Wong said. "And therefore, at this very moment, when Carrie Lam announced withdrawal, people would not believe it is a 'sincere' move."

"HK people are well-aware of her notorious track record," he added, noting that one of Lam's advisers had earlier advocated the use of secret police to quell protests. "Whenever there are signs of sending a palm branch, they always come with a far tighter grip on exercising civil rights."


Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam announces withdrawal of a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China, Sept. 4, 2019. (Screen grab from video)

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam announces withdrawal of a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China, Sept. 4, 2019. (Screen grab from video)


Wong said Lam and the ruling Chinese Communist Party had conceded nothing, and warned that a "full-scale clampdown is on the way."

Jimmy Sham, convenor of march organizers the Civil Human Rights Front, said Lam's speech would exacerbate current divisions in Hong Kong society between supporters of Beijing and those who want more liberal democracy.

"It is very unlikely that Carrie Lam's decision to formally withdraw the extradition law amendments will do anything to quell the current dispute, because how would we be able to look all those people who have made so many sacrifices in the face again?"

"This isn't going to heal divisions in Hong Kong public opinion; it will exacerbate the conflict between the [pro-democracy] and [pro-police] camps," Sham said. "That is the most worrying thing."

'Fake goods'

A number of pro-democracy lawmakers also hit out at Lam's response as being too late to do any good.

"There is no way that the people of Hong Kong are going to buy these fake goods which don't quite pass muster, coming as late in the day as they do," Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai told RFA.

"The pan-democratic camp and the Democratic Party will continue to support the five demands [of the anti-extradition movement]," Wu said.

Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung said people are now living in an atmosphere of fear following several months of violence and mass arrests at the hands of the authorities.

"In the past few months, the people of Hong Kong have given their blood, sweat and in some cases even their lives," Yeung said.

"Make no mistake about it, we know that the only way to resolve the situation is for all five demands to be met. In particular the demand for fully democratic elections and systemic political reform is of paramount importance."

Hong Kong clothing magnate Michael Tien, a former member of the pro-Beijing Liberal Party, also said Lam had responded too late to calm public anger.

"If we're only talking about withdrawal, then it's probably too late, because the real pressure points aren't around this any more," he said. "We are under daily attack, and every time a video clip emerges of an attack, everyone blames the other side."

"We are a long way from it being a question of just the anti-extradition amendments now," Tien said.

Threat to status

The amendments to existing extradition laws 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 mainland Chinese courts.

But recent public opinion polls have indicated that public anger over police violence against mostly young and unarmed protesters has been a key driver of attendance at mass peaceful protests, where marchers have numbered in the millions on some occasions.

Widespread and credible reports of sexual mistreatment and injuries suffered by arrested protesters in police custody have also fueled calls for an independent public inquiry, including from one in seven of Hong Kong’s elite civil servants.

Reported by Tam Siu-yin for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Lu Xi for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


September 2, 2019


Tens of Thousands Boycott Class in Hong Kong Over Extraditions to Mainland China

Tens of thousands of students converged on the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Monday, lending their weight to the anti-extradition movement with a class boycott to greet the new academic year amid a general strike across the city.

The students issued a fresh ultimatum to the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam, saying the government has two weeks to respond to the five main demands of the anti-extradition movement, or face escalating protest action.


Protesters gather near the government headquarters in Hong Kong to call for a city-wide general strike as they rally against a controversial extradition bill, Sept. 2, 2019.  (AFP Photo)

Protesters gather near the government headquarters in Hong Kong to call for a city-wide general strike as they rally against a controversial extradition bill, Sept. 2, 2019. (AFP Photo)


Some 30,000 students attended the rally, organizers said, comparing the numbers to some 13,000 who attended a similar rally at the start of the 2014 Occupy Central movement for fully democratic elections.

Saturday marked the fifth anniversary since China's National People's Congress standing committee ruled out full universal suffrage for Hong Kong, saying instead that all candidates for Legislative Council (LegCo) and chief executive elections must be vetted by a pro-Beijing committee.

Students at Monday's rally chanted slogans in support of the five demands: formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws; an amnesty for hundreds of arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police violence and abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.

Meanwhile, some 40,000 workers from at least 29 sectors including aviation, finance, social welfare and healthcare held a rally in downtown Hong Kong in support of the anti-extradition movement, at the start of a two-day general strike.

Striking workers said they were angry that the government had made no response to protesters' demands since the last general strike on Aug. 5.

Two-week deadline

A spokesman for the striking workers said organizers would follow the students in escalating non-violent direct action if the government failed to respond by the two-week deadline.

"If the government does not respond to the five major demands before the deadline on Sept. 13, we will make a decisive escalation, including but not limited to longer strikes," the spokesman said.

"Regarding the details of such actions, we will discuss them and then announce them publicly."

The spokesman said the strike organizers were "encouraged" at the strong turnout in spite of a string of political arrests and sackings from top companies including flagship airline Cathay Pacific in recent weeks.

"We also appeal to more Hong Kong people to continue to come out and speak out on behalf of Hong Kong, without fear of this white terror," he said.

A striking social sector worker who gave only a single name, Winston, said the string of sackings of employees found to have participated in the anti-extradition movement represents a significant erosion of the city's traditional rights and freedoms.

"They promote these so-called core values, but at the same time, colleagues are being encouraged to snitch on each other," Winston said.

"We have reason to believe that this white terror has spread all over Hong Kong," he said. "We call on both private companies and non-government agencies to stop these acts and to uphold the human rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people once more."

Meanwhile, healthcare workers wearing black masks and carrying anti-government slogans, gathered in the lobby areas of several government hospitals, calling on the government to respond to protesters' demands.

Healthcare workers criticize police

Front-line healthcare workers have hit out at the Hong Kong police for the excessive use of force and attacks on bystanders during clashes with anti-extradition protesters at the weekend.

Police in Prince Edward MTR station at one stage prevented ambulance crews from administering first aid to the injured, delaying their access to treatment, local media reported.

The amendments to existing extradition laws 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 mainland Chinese courts.

Reported by Tam Siu-yin and Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Gao Feng for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


September 1, 2019


Five Years After Beijing Ruled Out Democracy, Hong Kong is Aflame

Hundreds of protesters converged on Hong Kong’s International Airport and a major subway terminus on Sunday, smashing up a train control room, setting up barricades outside the airport and disrupting check-in and transportation services after a night of violence and growing public anger at the authorities.

Riot police fired tear gas and moved in to clear the airport of protesters, some of whom had walked from the nearby town of Tung Chung after the airport express train link was also shut down.


Protesters stand near burning items during a protest, in the latest opposition to a planned extradition law that has since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in Hong Kong, Aug. 31, 2019.  (AFP Photo)

Protesters stand near burning items during a protest, in the latest opposition to a planned extradition law that has since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in Hong Kong, Aug. 31, 2019. (AFP Photo)


Tung Chung MTR Station and part of the Tung Chung subway line were shut down after the station became crowded with thousands of protesters, journalists and police later in the afternoon, with some protesters smashing windows in the station control room, and police ordering journalists to leave, live video streams showed.

Protesters also set up flaming barricades on the streets of Tung Chung, a new town not far from the international airport at Chek Lap Kok in northern Lantau Island.

The MTR Corp., which runs subway and train services across Hong Kong, stopped services to and from Tung Chung Station, saying that anti-extradition protesters had vandalized ticket machines and smartcard readers, causing "large-scale damage".

Some of them smashed windows in the control room and sprayed graffiti across it, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

Arriving passengers were seen pushing suitcases along the street as protesters blocked key roads approaching Chek Lap Kok after train and bus services to the airport were suspended on Sunday afternoon, local media reported.

The renewed protests came after Hong Kong special police charged into a subway station late on Saturday and attacked passengers aboard waiting trains with batons and pepper spray, according to video footage posted to social media sites from inside Prince Edward Station in Kowloon.

The police, who wore the black, armored uniforms of the “raptor” special forces, appeared to be in pursuit of protesters, but instead attacked passengers indiscriminately, the footage showed.

One was a small boy who was left with head injuries.

Pepper spray, beatings

Protesters formed a barrier of umbrellas inside one train, while police fired pepper spray inside the train, beat up several people and arrested an unknown number of black-clad protesters, Stand News reported.

Police continued to attack passengers with batons even after bystanders asked them to stop, and those who tried to approach them were sprayed indiscriminately with painful doses of pepper spray, the report said.

Earlier on Saturday, police had deployed water cannon and rubber bullets against anti-extradition protesters as clashes continued through the weekend following a string of arrests of prominent pro-democracy figures.

Thousands of people turned out for the “Walk Free” protest in spite of the closure of large numbers of subway stations by the MTR Corp.

Outside government headquarters on Saturday, a water cannon fired blue dye apparently intended to stain the skin of those present for identification at a later date, while protesters set street barricades aflame and hurled Molotov cocktails across a barrier set up to protect government buildings.

At a rally in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, protesters surrounded and interrogated four people they believed to be undercover police officers or other agents.

 An elderly man implores police not to charge at Tung Chung MTR train station in Hong Kong, Sept. 1, 2019. (AFP Photo)

An elderly man implores police not to charge at Tung Chung MTR train station in Hong Kong, Sept. 1, 2019. (AFP Photo)

One of the four was searched and found to be carrying a police handgun, which he later fired after regaining his belongings. Nobody was injured in the incident.

A protester surnamed Chan at the Victoria Park rally said she had turned out in spite of the police ban out of anger that the administration of Carrie Lam was ignoring the protesters’ demands.

“The fact that the government has made no response at all has made public anger much more intense,” Chan said. “It wouldn’t be this intense if they hadn’t refused to respond positively, if they’d made even one positive response, to the march of a million people on June 9, instead of disregarding everyone’s opinions.”

“All we can do now is come out and support [the movement],” she said. “No one knows how things will develop.”

Christian groups -- who have added their “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” chant to the protests since the outset -- also held their own “Sinners’ March” protest in support of the five demands.

'Freedom DNA in their bones'

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting told the religious rally in Wanchai district that Hong Kong will likely be changed forever if the government refuses to listen to the people.

“If the government doesn’t respond to the five major demands of the Hong Kong people eventually, it will be hard for Hong Kong to return to the way it was, to the old social order,” Lam told the rally.

“Today we came to this religious gathering in Wanchai, hoping that the government will respect the law,” he said.

A mainland Chinese visitor at the scene of one protest said he felt privileged to have witnessed an anti-authoritarian movement in Hong Kong at first hand.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party's state-run media have consistently depicted the anti-extradition movement as a violent separatist movement fueled by a "small minority of radical protesters" backed by foreign powers.

"[It's like] they have some kind of freedom DNA in their bones," he said. "I really don't get the impression they want to secede from China: they are fighting for freedom and democracy, and for the protection of human rights."

"That's why they have to come out onto the streets: the government hasn't given a positive response to any of their demands," he said.

More than 30 people were admitted to hospital, eight of whom were admitted and were in a stable condition following the clashes, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

The protests came after police banned a planned march along a specified route, which was to have marked the fifth anniversary of a decree from Beijing that Hong Kong election candidates would have to be screened by a Beijing-backed committee before standing in elections to the Legislative Council or for the chief executive.

The Aug. 31, 2014 decree by the standing committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) sparked the 79-day Occupy Central movement for fully democratic elections, which called for genuine universal suffrage.

The anti-extradition protesters are calling for the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws, an amnesty for arrested protesters, an end to the description of protesters as rioters, an independent inquiry into police abuse of power, and fully democratic elections.

The amendments to existing extradition laws 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 mainland Chinese courts.

Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Gao Feng for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


August 30, 2019


Hong Kong Police Arrest Joshua Wong, Several Other Prominent Activists

Hong Kong police have made a string of high-profile arrests in recent days, including of former 2014 protest leader Joshua Wong, who hit out at the move as an attempt to "manipulate" the city's residents, who have risen up to oppose plans to allow extradition to mainland China since June.

Wong, 22, was taken away on Friday as he approached South Horizons MTR station by four men dressed in plain clothes who didn't show police identification, and who forced him to get into a private vehicle with no explanation.


Hong Kong democracy activists Joshua Wong (L) and Agnes Chow (R) are driven to court following their arrest, Aug. 30, 2019.  (Reuters Photo)

Hong Kong democracy activists Joshua Wong (L) and Agnes Chow (R) are driven to court following their arrest, Aug. 30, 2019. (Reuters Photo)


He was taken to police headquarters in Wanchai district.

Agnes Chow, a fellow member of the pro-democracy Demosisto party whose candidacy for legislative elections was rejected by the government in 2018 for political reasons, was also arrested soon after at her home in Tai Po. She was also taken to Wanchai.

Wong was arrested on suspicion of "organizing, taking part and inciting others to join an unauthorized assembly on June 21," when protesters surrounded police headquarters in Wanchai, police said in a statement.

Chow, also 22, was arrested on suspicion of "taking part and inciting others to join an unauthorized assembly," police said.

Both were released on bail.

Police had earlier arrested Andy Chan, 29, who headed the banned Hong Kong National Party, as he planned to board a flight at Hong Kong International Airport.

Attempt to scare

Demosisto vice-chairman Isaac Cheng said the government is trying to scare people away from supporting the anti-extradition protests that have gripped Hong Kong since early June.

"The government is spreading white terror in the whole atmosphere of Hong Kong and it is frightening Hong Kong people not to come out again to fight for the rights they deserve," Cheng told government broadcaster RTHK.

"So we urge Hong Kong people to come out in every circumstance, for every assembly and protest, to make Hong Kong become Hong Kong again."

On his release, Wong said the arrests were clearly intended as a warning shot from the ruling Chinese Communist Party in Beijing, and said it was ridiculous to target the leaders of a past pro-democracy movement.

"We are furious about large-scale arrest[s] on the day before 31 August," he said via his Twitter account. "It is completely ridiculous that the police target specific prominent figures of social movement in the past ... framing them as the leaders of the anti-extradition bill protests," he said. "We once again reiterate that Demosisto has never taken up any leading role during the movement."

"My arrest shows the government answers our request for a dialogue with batons, tear gas, rubber bullets, and mass arrest. Our freedom of assembly and other fundamental rights are eroded," Wong wrote.

Earlier, Wong told journalists: "We are strongly aware of how President Xi Jinping and the Beijing government are the ones who back and endorse the Hong Kong police to make ... mass arrests and prosecutions."

"It just shows that Beijing continues to manipulate Hong Kong people's freedom, and we shall never surrender," he said.

Unlikely to succeed

Chow said the government's approach is unlikely to succeed.

"It's very clear that the government of Hong Kong is trying to make the people of Hong Kong afraid of taking part in the anti-extradition movement, or in any future democracy movement, through a reign of white terror and fear," she told reporters after being released on bail.

"White terror" is typically used in Chinese to refer to the decades of political arrests, incarcerations, and other forms of intimidation under one-party rule and martial law by the nationalist Kuomintang in Taiwan before the country began its transition to full democracy in the 1990s.

Wong also drew a contemporary link with democratic Taiwan, warning the country, which has never been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, never to give in to Beijing's insistence on "unification" under the "one country, two systems" concept used in Hong Kong.

"We hope that more people in Taiwan will continue to pay attention to what is happening in Hong Kong, where one country, two systems is now more like one country, one-and-a-half systems," he said.

Lin Fei-fan, a former student leader of the 2014 Sunflower Movement that occupied Taiwan's parliament and executive headquarters in protest over plans for closer ties with China, said the whole world is concerned about peace and stability in Hong Kong.

"If Beijing takes action, this will harm the development of its international relations, as well as doing nothing to resolve divisions [in Hong Kong]," Lin said.

"We encourage a dialogue between the authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing and the general public as a way of ending the crackdown and enabling the people of Hong Kong to regain trust in their government," he said, warning that political interference in Hong Kong's supposedly independent judiciary would lose China international support.

Protest organizers attacked

The string of arrests in Hong Kong came as two prominent protest organizers were attacked by unidentified men.

Jimmy Sham, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front that has organized many mass protest marches, was set upon by two masked men armed with a baseball bat and a metal rod, he said. Sham was unhurt, but a friend suffered arm injuries from the baseball bat.

Meanwhile Max Chung, who applied for permission to hold an anti-triad protest in Yuen Long in the wake of attacks on train passengers by triad-linked men in white shirts, was attacked by a group of men on Thursday afternoon while giving an interview to a journalist in Tai Po.

Chung later posted photos online of injuries to his back after he curled up into a ball to protect his head. The journalist from Truth Media was also injured in the attack.

Reported by Wen Yuqing, Tam Siu-yin and Chung Kuang-cheng for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Gao Feng for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


August 22, 2019


Hong Kong's Political Crisis Reverberates Through Its Big-Name Brands

Major banks in Hong Kong placed large advertisements in local newspapers on Thursday sending a clear signal of loyalty to the ruling Chinese Communist Party's official line on anti-extradition protests that have rocked the city since early June.

HSBC said in its advertisement that it was "very concerned about recent social events, and strongly condemns any form of violence and behaviour that disrupts social order."



The bank called for dialogue to resolve the standoff over plans by the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam to change Hong Kong's extradition laws to enable the rendition of alleged criminal suspects to face trial under mainland China's justice system.

Similar ads were placed by the Bank of East Asia and Standard Chartered.

The Standard Chartered advertisement said it supported Lam's administration in its attempt to "effectively maintain social order and stability," in language reminiscent of Chinese state media reporting on the protests.

The Bank of East Asia called on Hong Kong's citizens to oppose violence, safeguard the rule of law, boost the economy and build "harmony."

The banks are the latest in a string of corporations to be caught up in the political crisis over the anti-extradition protests.

Amid a growing climate of fear, Hong Kong’s flag-carrier Cathay Pacific Airways has seen a number of high-level resignations, including that of former CEO Rupert Hogg, as well as the firing of a pilot who said words of encouragement to the protest movement on landing in Hong Kong. Other staff members have been fired or resigned, without disclosing the reasons, in recent days.

The job losses at Cathay come after China's Civil Aviation Administration announced on Aug. 9 that any staff members who could be found to be linked to the anti-extradition protests would be banned from flying over Chinese airspace. Such flights represent a significant proportion of Cathay business.

Hong Kong media reports said Hogg had resigned after being asked to supply Beijing with a list of Cathay employees who supported the protests. Hogg had instead submitted a single name, his own, the unconfirmed reports said.

Staff members and Cathay and its China-facing subsidiary Cathay Dragon, have reported an atmosphere of fear inside both companies since Beijing's orders came down, with vigilante groups forming on social media to find and denounce employees who sympathize with the protests.

'Political storm' at Cathay

Civic Party lawmaker and resigned Cathay Pacific pilot Jeremy Tam has warned that more Hong Kong companies could become targets in the ongoing propaganda war being run by Beijing, and has described what is happening at Cathay Pacific as a "political storm."

Meanwhile, pro-democracy lawmakers have warned that anyone crossing the border from Hong Kong into mainland China will likely have their personal belongings searched and their cell phones scanned for photos relating to the anti-extradition movement.

Some 800 high school students held a rally in Hong Kong's Central district to reaffirm support for the demands of the anti-extradition movement, Aug. 22, 2019. (RFA Photo)

Some 800 high school students held a rally in Hong Kong's Central district to reaffirm support for the demands of the anti-extradition movement, Aug. 22, 2019. (RFA Photo)

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki warned on Saturday that a number of Hong Kong residents had reported being searched in that way at a number of border crossing points, including the direct high-speed rail service from West Kowloon Station to Shenzhen and Guangzhou in mainland China.

Around half of the 700,000 people who move between Hong Kong and mainland China every day are Hong Kong residents.

Local media reports say that the inspection of mobile phones at the Shenzhen border started just after the Chinese government labeled the massive demonstrations -- sometimes numbering two million people -- in Hong Kong a "Color Revolution" against the ruling party.

Student unions are now calling for a two-week class boycott at the start of the new semester in early September, and have vowed to escalate their actions if the government fails to meet the five key demands of the anti-extradition movement.

Some 800 high school students held a rally in the downtown Central district on Thursday to reaffirm support for the five demands: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to extradition laws; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.

"I'm not worried [that this will affect my studies]," a student surnamed Hui told RFA at the rally. "My exams are my own affair, but Hong Kong is my home, and I have a responsibility to speak out."

"If I don't speak out now, how will the next generation be able to speak out? They won't even be allowed. I think everyone has to face up to this reality," she said.

Hui said she was in the first year of high school in 2014, during the pro-democracy Umbrella movement, also known as Occupy Central.

"The older generation in my family had to deal with the Tiananmen massacre of June 4, 1989. All we want is for the extradition amendments to be formally withdrawn," Hui said. "I am losing hope though, because when we raise our voices, the government doesn't listen."

Reported by Shen Hua for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


August 18, 2019


Nearly Two Million Take to Hong Kong's Streets in Peaceful Anti-Extradition Protest

More than a million people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday in another mass protest against plans to allow extradition to mainland China, organizers said.

Wielding umbrellas against the heavy rain, protesters packed out the city's Victoria Park and spilled out to fill several major highways in the surrounding area, with many marching as far as government headquarters in spite of a police ban, raising the now-familiar chant of "Go Hongkongers!"


Protesters stand on Harcourt Road overlooking the Legislative Council during a rally in Hong Kong, in the latest opposition to a planned extradition law that has since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city, August 18, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Protesters stand on Harcourt Road overlooking the Legislative Council during a rally in Hong Kong, in the latest opposition to a planned extradition law that has since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city, August 18, 2019. (AFP Photo)


Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations were also packed with crowds, according to live video streams, as tens of thousands more people tried to join the rally.

Rally organizers the Civil Human Rights Front said an estimated 1.7 million people turned out. The group also hit out a police decision to ban a full march from the park, saying that many more people were prevented from attending owing to the "unreasonable restrictions" imposed by police.

Group convenor Jimmy Sham said the march was about sending a strong message to the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam that the majority of people in Hong Kong favored peaceful and rational protest as a way to make their views known.

"Today, we wanted to tell Carrie Lam that Hong Kong people can do peaceful, rational and non-violent protest as well as put up a brave resistance," Sham said. "Today was all about the peaceful part, and asking for a response from Lam to our five demands."

The anti-extradition protests that have gripped the city since early June are making five key demands of Lam's administration: the formal withdrawal of planned amendments to laws that would allow extradition of alleged criminal suspects to face trial in Chinese courts; an amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to the description of protesters as rioters; an independent inquiry into police abuse of power; and fully democratic elections.

"Lam has continued to hide behind the police, and to use their violence as a way to suppress the demands of the people of Hong Kong," Sham said.

He said some protesters had only resorted to violence because Lam's administration has been ignoring peaceful demonstrations.

Civil disobedience

Cantopop star Denise Ho told the rally that the marchers had only set off from the park to ease the sheer pressure of the crowd.

"The police told us that we couldn't march, and that we'd have to do something else, and not leave Victoria Park," Ho said. "But there were just too many people today, so that's why everyone took to the streets."

"This kind of civil disobedience has persisted over several months in Hong Kong in spite of the authorities' attempt to extinguish it using everything they've got," she said. "They tried to make people too scared to come out, but it didn't work."

"Hong Kong people are still incredibly united, to the point where they come out even in this heavy downpour," Ho said.

A protester surnamed Cheung said the two most important demands for her were fully democratic elections to the city's Legislative Council (LegCo) and for the chief executive.

"I feel that our freedoms are being stripped away, and that the police ... won't even let us come out in protest over that," Cheung said.

"It's unreasonable to talk about supporting peaceful methods of protest if things have gotten to the point where we can't even go on a peaceful march."

A highschooler surnamed Lok said he hopes that the city's young people will boycott class come September, an idea that was shown to have widespread support in a recent poll of nearly 20,000 student.

"We want our school to respond positively to the five major demands ... as well as committing to provide support for all arrested students," Lok said.

Muted police presence

Police presence was muted for most of the day, with a noticeable absence of riot police, tear gas or rubber bullets, even when protesters spilled out onto Harcourt Road, a key site in the 2014 democracy movement after night fell.

Across the harbor in Kowloon's Mong Kok district, a group of protesters gathered outside the local police station, shouting angry slogans, flashing laser pointers and throwing eggs, but left shortly before a group of riot police showed up to clear some barricades on Nathan Road.

Former 2014 student leader Joshua Wong posted video to Twitter which showed a group of around 15 people clad in the black clothes that have marked out anti-extradition protesters in recent weeks, filing into a police station at the end of the protests at around midnight on Sunday.

"Lots of undercover officials that dress up & pretend as protesters with black t-shirt," Wong wrote via his Twitter account. "They were spotted by citizens when they went back to the Police Headquarter in the midnight."

The government said some "breaches of the peace" had occurred in spite of the majority of protesters behaving in a peaceful manner.

"A large number of protesters rushed to the roads and occupied the carriageways of Causeway Road and Hennessy Road after leaving the public meeting venue," it said in a statement after the rally.

Protesters also blocked roads in Western and Central districts, Admiralty, Wanchai, Causeway Bay and Tin Hau.

In response to public anger over police violence, the statement said that the police had exercised restraint, tolerance and patience.

"Only when there were violent acts or illegal behaviors which endangered the safety of people at scene, police would stop them by proportionate use of force," saying the public was being "unfair" to the police force.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Wang Yun for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


August 13, 2019


Riot Police Intervene After Protesters Bring Hong Kong Airport to a Standstill

Riot police stormed the Hong Kong International Airport on Tuesday, clashing with protesters after several thousand people occupied the facility and caused the mass cancellation of flights for the second day in a row, amid growing public anger over police violence and government plans to allow extradition to mainland China.

Reuters news agency reported that scuffles broke out after an injured person was taken out of the main terminal by medics after he was held by a group of protesters, some of whom claimed he was an undercover mainland Chinese police officer.



Riot police who moved pushed some protesters back and applied pepper spray, while at least two protesters were taken away by police, the agency said.

A situation that looked poised to erupt into serious violence calmed down after a few hours without a more forceful police intervention, Reuters added.

While flights returned to normal briefly on Tuesday morning following Monday's shutdown, the passenger terminal at Chek Lap Kok was shut down by the sheer size of the crowds by the afternoon, with protesters making temporary barricades out of luggage carts.

Chanting "Meet the five demands!" and "An eye for an eye!" after a protester underwent emergency surgery after being shot in the eye by a "non-lethal" police projectile believed to be a bean bag round.

"I was born and educated in Hong Kong, and I never once imagined that it could turn into this in the space of two months," one protester told RFA. "[A place where] police would fire tear gas in an enclosed space, fire bullets."

"As for our shameless government, I don't think we will necessarily be able to change anything, but it's better than cowering at home."

The crowd quickly brought normal operations to a standstill, with some passengers expressing annoyance at the disruption, and others saying they supported the anti-extradition movement in spite of the inconvenience.

More than 5,000 protesters fill Hong Kong's international airport, Aug. 12, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

More than 5,000 protesters fill Hong Kong's international airport, Aug. 12, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

The anti-extradition protests are calling on chief executive Carrie Lam to formally withdraw planned amendments to extradition laws that would allow alleged criminal suspects to be sent to face trial in mainland courts, to release all protesters without charge, and to stop describing the protests as riots or protesters as rioters.

They also want the government to set up an independent public inquiry into police use of tear gas, batons, rubber and textile bullets, and batons to attack crowds of largely peaceful demonstrators, and their failure to prevent bloody attacks by triad-linked thugs on protesting crowds in Yuen Long and North Point.

UN cites 'credible evidence'

The United Nations Human Rights Office on Tuesday hit out at the Hong Kong government over the police use of tear gas and other weapons in a non-approved manner.

"The ... Office has reviewed credible evidence of law enforcement officials employing less-lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by international norms and standards," spokesman Rupert Colville said in a statement.

"For example, officials can be seen firing tear gas canisters into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at individual protesters on multiple occasions, creating a considerable risk of death or serious injury," he said in a written statement, calling for an independent investigation.

"The Office urges the Hong Kong ... authorities to act with restraint, to ensure that the right of those who are expressing their views peacefully are respected and protected, while ensuring that the response by law enforcement officials to any violence that may take place is proportionate and in conformity with international standards on the use of force, including the principles of necessity and proportionality," it said.

Protesters also want Lam to formally dissolve the Legislative Council (LegCo) and implement political reforms leading to fully democratic elections with public nominations both to the legislature and for the city's chief executive.

But Lam has refused all along to countenance such concessions, preferring to focus on the economic costs of the protest movement without addressing the political crisis that sparked it.

Call for unity, dialogue

Lam on Tuesday called for unity, an end to the escalating civil disobedience that has rocked the city for two months, and a peaceful dialogue to resolve the impasse.

"Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt," Lam said. "As for the woman whose eye was injured, I hope she makes a rapid recovery, and this will be investigated if she is willing to file a complaint and tell me what happened on the day."

Claudia Mo, who leads the pro-democracy camp of lawmakers, said Lam's words were like a stuck record, however.

"Lam still repeats herself like a broken tape-recorder, mistaking the effect for the cause and painting black as white," Mo told reporters.

"She says that the so-called violent protesters have brought chaos to Hong Kong, while making no attempt to resolve the current issue."

Protesters hold placards at Hong Kong's International Airport, Aug. 12, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Protesters hold placards at Hong Kong's International Airport, Aug. 12, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Meanwhile, pro-China groups ramped up the rhetoric against the anti-extradition movement, after Beijing's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office said the protesters' actions were approaching "terrorism."

Forty pro-China lawmakers issued a statement on Tuesday saying that what were once peaceful demonstrations against amendments to extradition laws had become "violent conflicts spreading through a number of districts," and supporting the police in their attempts to "restore social order."

Business groups and airlines echoed the claims, some of them publishing statements in Hong Kong newspapers on Tuesday.

Clampdown on reporters

Meanwhile, the ruling Chinese Communist Party has clamped down on any reporting coming out of Hong Kong, in a bid to control the narrative about Hong Kong from behind the Great Firewall.

"The only media doing much reporting out of Hong Kong are the China Daily, which has a mostly overseas readership, and the Global Times," a veteran journalist surnamed Tu told RFA.

"All of the Chinese media are taking the exact same line, without exception."

A website executive surnamed Jiang said the Hong Kong protests have sparked a whole new sub-class of "sensitive words," keywords that prompt the automatic deletion of social media content by censorship tools.

"There are some set piece articles that they ask all platforms to publish, and the comments have to be reviewed as well," Jiang said. "We have a deputy editor whose job it is to liaise with the Cyberspace Administration."

"There have been a very large number of deleted accounts on each platform too; several thousand of them," he said.

Repeated calls to the Cyberspace Administration rang unanswered during office hours on Tuesday.

Reported by Wong Siu-san, Sing Man, Wen Yuqing, Man Hoi-tsan and Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


August 11, 2019


Hong Kong Hit by Another Weekend of Clashes, Tear Gas, Public Anger

Hong Kong has been rocked by yet another weekend of tear gas, baton charges and angry protests amid a deepening confrontation between anti-extradition protesters and the city authorities.

Riot police fired multiple rounds of tear gas at "illegal" protests and made arrests in several districts of the city on Sunday, as pro-China thugs attacked anti-extradition protesters in North Point.



"HK Riot Police fired bullet and headshot a young lady," Joshua Wong, a former leader of the 2014 pro-democracy movement, said in a caption to a photo posted to his Twitter account on Sunday. "I am not sure whether her right eye will turn blind or not but it is totally insane and terrible."

Wong called on the U.S. to end all exports of tear gas and rubber bullets to Hong Kong.

A protester shields himself from tear gas during a confrontation with police in Tai Wai, Hong Kong, Aug. 10, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

A protester shields himself from tear gas during a confrontation with police in Tai Wai, Hong Kong, Aug. 10, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

The clashes came after a weekend of protests that defied police bans on marches and gatherings in Sham Shui Po, Tai Po and downtown shopping districts in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.

Protesters continued their chant of "Reclaim Hong Kong! Revolution now!", while protesters and local residents alike hurled obscenities at the police for their apparent collusion with a string of triad-linked attacks in recent weeks.

In North Point, tensions were running high as protesters gathered in a district known for its triad-linked loyalty to the ruling Chinese Communist Party, after a man in a red shirt ran out of a restaurant and attacked a young man wearing black: the usual colour worn by supporters of the anti-extradition movement.

A Tai Po district resident surnamed Chan said she was very angry with the way the police had handled the protests so far.

"We are going to walk the streets. Wearing black clothes has become very popular lately," she said. "Black clothes show that you care more about justice."

"[These young people] are on the side of justice, and bringing Hong Kong society out of chaos," Chan said. "The police ... have been targeting the people of Hong Kong, and ignoring their safety.”

Protest standoffs

Local people engaged in angry shouting matches with protesters, with at least one assault on a member of the press reported on Sunday.

Police fired many rounds of tear gas from in side the Tsim Sha Tsui police station to clear protesters on both Saturday and Sunday evening, while protesters completely blocked Nathan Road, a busy shopping street running north from Tsim Sha Tsui towards the city's iconic Lion Rock.

"A large group of protesters are gathering on the Park Lane Shopper's Boulevard, Tsim Sha Tsui, blocking the section of Nathan Road between Austin Road and Salisbury Road," the police said in a statement on Sunday.

"This seriously affects emergency services for the public. Some protestors even hurled smoke bombs and hard objects, and aimed laser beams at police officers," it said, adding "Police officers have deployed tear gas and used minimum force to disperse protesters."

"Residents of the area are advised ... to, if necessary, keep their windows shut and stay indoors," it said.

An almost identical statement was issued regarding the use of tear gas in Hong Kong Island's Wanchai district that accused protesters of throwing "petrol bombs." However, local media only reported that small fires were burning on the tarmac in some protest locations, with no indication as to how they started.

Further north, protesters also gathered outside police stations in Sham Shui Po and Cheung Sha Wan districts, where police fired tear gas at a pedestrian footbridge where journalists were clustered and where local residents were passing by on their daily business, according to several social media posts from the scene.

"The area around the Sham Shui Po police station once again turned to a battleground on Sunday afternoon as scores of anti-riot police fire volleys of tear gas at brick-throwing anti-government demonstrators who had again besieged the station," government broadcaster RTHK reported.

Many protesters said they had come out in anger over the arrest of Hong Kong Baptist University student union president Keith Fong on Tuesday on suspicion of carrying an "offensive weapon."

Fong, who was carrying 10 recently purchased laser pointers, none of which was equipped with a power supply, was later released without charge.

On Saturday, protesters were also chased away with riot police using tear gas from their occupation of a traffic roundabout near Tai Wai, on the other side of Lion Rock, while protesters blocked a road outside the New Town Plaza shopping mall in neighboring Shatin.

Protesters also set up barricades using traffic barricades and umbrellas near the Kowloon-side exit of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel, leaving before riot police arrived on Saturday.

Protest goals

A protester surnamed Koh said the protesters' goals hadn't changed, even though they continued to show up in different districts across Hong Kong.

"We're not really focusing on where the protests are: our goals are very consistent, which is to say the five demands," Koh told RFA on Saturday.

Meanwhile, thousands of anti-extradition protesters gathered in the arrivals hall of the Hong Kong International Airport for the third day of a sit-in that began on Friday, greeting new arrivals to the city with a rendition of "Do You Hear The People Sing!" in English and recent video footage of police violence against them.

The anti-extradition protests have called in recent weeks on the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam to formally withdraw planned amendments to extradition laws that would allow alleged criminal suspects to be sent to face trial in mainland courts, to release all protesters without charge and to stop describing the protests as riots or protesters as violent.

They also want the government to set up an independent public inquiry into police use of tear gas, batons, rubber and textile bullets, and batons to attack crowds of largely peaceful demonstrators, and their failure to prevent bloody attacks by triad-linked thugs on protesting crowds in Yuen Long and North Point.

And they want Lam to formally dissolve the Legislative Council (LegCo) and implement political reforms leading to fully democratic elections with public nominations both to the legislature and for the city's chief executive.

But Lam has refused all along to countenance such concessions, preferring to focus on the economic costs of the protest movement without addressing the political crisis that sparked it.

In Washington, there is growing bipartisan support for the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which will require the U.S. government to stop according the city separate trading status if its promised freedoms and political autonomy continue to be eroded under Chinese rule.

The bill also seeks to "establish punitive measures against government officials in Hong Kong or mainland China who are responsible for suppressing basic freedoms in Hong Kong."

Reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


August 5, 2019


Hong Kong Gripped by Protests, Street Battles on Day of General Strike

Anti-government protesters occupied major roads in Hong Kong on Monday as the city was hit by a general strike and black-clad anti-extradition protesters besieged police stations across the city, setting fires outside one following peaceful demonstrations attended by thousands of people.

An estimated 10,000 workers went on strike across several key sectors in the city on Monday, as protesters occupied major highways, and police fired tear gas at them on Harcourt Road in Admiralty, Lung Cheung Road under Kowloon's Lion Rock, as well Nathan Road and Waterloo Road in downtown Kowloon.



Police also fired tear gas on protesters and local residents who set up barricades and occupied major roads in the new towns of Tai Po and Tin Shui Wai to the east and west of the New Territories, with local residents staying out on the streets hurling abuse at police until well into the middle of the night in some areas.

Meanwhile, a demonstration outside Shatin police station saw some protesters setting fire to pallets and other street debris right against the police station walls after 30,000 people turned out earlier in the day to protest police brutality in a shopping mall in the dormitory town.

Protesters react after police fire tear gas in Hong Kong's Tai Po district during a general strike, Aug. 5, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Protesters react after police fire tear gas in Hong Kong's Tai Po district during a general strike, Aug. 5, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Police responded to escalating protests in Kowloon's Sham Shui Po district by ordering nearby MTR stations to close, in a bid to prevent more protesters from flocking to the area.

All of the occupations and clashes were preceded by peaceful rallies earlier in the day, which began with widespread disruption of train services after protesters held up trains by throwing objects on the tracks.

The Mass Transit Railway (MTR) Corp. said there had been a "large number of cases of passengers activating Passenger Alarm Devices on trains or Platform Emergency Plungers on platforms, obstructing train doors and platform screen doors as well as obstructing trains."

Protesters press demands

Participants at the rallies chanted "Go Hongkongers!" and called on the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam to meet protesters' demands, which include the full withdrawal of amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, which would enable the extradition of anyone Beijing deems a criminal suspect to face trial in mainland Chinese courts.

Protesters also want a full amnesty for dozens of people arrested, many of them on charges of "rioting," and an independent public inquiry into the government and police force's handling of the crisis.

Police have arrested 420 people aged from 14 to 76, fired 1,000 tear gas rounds, 160 rubber bullets, and 150 sponge rounds since protests began to escalate on June 6, according to a statement at a news conference on Monday.

Protesters are also demanding the government stop describing protests as "riots," and take steps to implement political reforms that would bring about fully democratic elections to the Legislative Council (LegCo) and for the chief executive.

Some 200 flights at Hong Kong's normally super-efficient international airport were canceled as air traffic controllers joined the general strike, and striking workers gathered at the airport itself to call on the government to take heed of public opinion.

Meanwhile, a group of men in white shirts and armed with sticks and rods attacked protesters in North Point, with protesters fighting back and forcing the attackers to withdraw, according to the Apple Daily live video feed and social media posts from the scene.

"As the night descended, Hong Kong was waking up to the fact that the city has drifted into uncharted waters with no one clear where this is all headed," government broadcaster RTHK said in a news report commenting on the day's events.

Riot police were deployed in force in the streets around the ruling Chinese Communist Party's Central Liaison Office in the city's Western district, while the area around LegCo and government headquarters was left relatively open.

Graphic: RFA

A crowd gathered outside LegCo on Monday for the first time since the storming of the chamber on July 1, but soon dispersed to occupy nearby Harcourt Road, also a key site of the 2014 Occupy Central pro-democracy movement.

'National dignity hurt'

Beijing's Hong Kong a Macau Affairs Office hit out on Monday at the actions of protesters who threw a Chinese national flag into Hong Kong's iconic Victoria Harbour on Saurday, saying they had "offended national dignity and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people."

A resident surnamed Chu who was making food donations to protesters at the front line said the government would now have to face the consequences of ignoring public opinion.

"If you ignore public opinion, there will be consequences," Chu said.

"Hong Kong protesters have done some stuff that was a bit over the top, but there are so many people out protesting in Hong Kong, and yet the government pays no attention to public opinion."

"We will keep going until the job's done and our demands are met, otherwise we won't stop," she said. "Why is the dictatorship [in China] trying to put all of the blame onto the people of Hong Kong, calling them violent, when they won't even reflect on their own violence?"

London-based rights group Amnesty International has said the police are largely to blame for protester violence, because they have a tendency to use tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and batons to attack the crowd, and that police justification that the protests hadn't received prior approval wasn't in line with international human rights standards.

Public anger began to spiral after a gang of triad-linked men in white shirts attacked train passengers at Yuen Long MTR station on July 21.

Nobody was arrested at the time, and police took around 40 minutes to move in on the attackers, who left dozens of people hospitalized, one in a critical condition.

However, police have arrested dozens of protesters, many of them high-schoolers, college students, and young professionals, on suspicion of "rioting" following clashes between police and anti-extradition protesters in recent weeks.

Beijing urges action

Beijing has called on authorities in Hong Kong to take rapid steps to punish anyone who has broken the city's laws following weeks of angry protests over plans to allow extradition to mainland China.

Chinese officials have declined to comment on whether Beijing will order its People's Liberation Army (PLA) garrison to intervene in Hong Kong, referring only to the city's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, which allows for that possibility if the request is made by the Hong Kong government.

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam told a news conference on Monday that the city is now heading down "a dangerous path," but declined to respond to any of the protesters' demands.

Graphic: RFA

"They are saying that they want to make revolution and reclaim Hong Kong, but these demands have now gone far beyond the original [five] demands," Lam told reporters.

"I understand that people are unhappy with the government, but I call on everyone to reflect about whether they want to undermine the stable lives of more than seven million people, and obstruct Hong Kong's future."

"This will take Hong Kong down the path of no return, in which good and bad are both destroyed," she said.

Threat to city's status

The amendments are widely seen as a threat to Hong Kong's way of life, which was supposed to have been protected by 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 members of the business community could be targeted for words and actions deemed illegal by Chinese officials.

They could then be extradited to face trial in Chinese courts, which are directly controlled by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Gao Feng and Qiao Long for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


August 2, 2019


Hong Kong's Civil Servants Come Out in Support of Anti-Extradition Protests

Tens of thousands of people joined a rally of civil servants in downtown Hong Kong on Friday to call on the city's government to meet the five demands of anti-extradition protests that have gripped the city since June 6.

Chanting "Go Hongkongers!", the rallying cry of the anti-extradition movement, the civil servants met to send a clear message to the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam, who has become increasingly sequestered from public view in recent weeks.


Hong Kong civil servants call on the city's government to respond to protesters' demands, Aug. 2, 2019. (RFA Photo)

Hong Kong civil servants call on the city's government to respond to protesters' demands, Aug. 2, 2019. (RFA Photo)


Hong Kong's usually discreet and neutral civil servants are the latest group to come out strongly in favor of protesters, after lawyers, healthcare and medical professionals, financial sector workers, social workers and general trade unions.

The rally spilled over into several streets adjoining Chater Gardens in Hong Kong's Central district, with many present expressing support for a planned general strike on Monday.

The civil servants are calling on the government to meet the five main demands of protesters: to formally withdraw proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance that would allow extradition to mainland China; to grant an amnesty for all arrested protesters; to withdraw official accusations of rioting; to set up an independent inquiry into police behavior during the crisis; and fully democratic elections.

Former second-in-command Anson Chan, who headed the civil service before the 1997 handover to China, called on the government to reflect on the unprecedented support for a political movement among Hong Kong civil servants.

"What the secretary for the civil service, and what the chief executive and the chief secretary should be asking themselves is why is it that, 22 years after the handover, civil servants, unprecedentedly, feel the need to stand up and make their voices heard," Chan told the rally.

Sounding an alarm bell

Teresa Chiu, who heads the production workers' union at government broadcaster RTHK, said civil servants also have a separate identity as citizens of Hong Kong, and have no wish to see worsening divisions in Hong Kong society.

She said the union would be expressing its views by participating in Monday's strike.

"I don't think that we are standing on the opposite side from the government," Chiu told RFA. "We just want to boost the confidence of those who hold the power to take positive action to rebuild mutual trust in the face of an ever-deepening rift between the government and the people."

"The strike is a way to sound an alarm bell, in the hope that the government will be courageous enough to take the first step towards standing with their citizens," she said.

Cheung Ka-bo, a worker in the government transportation division, said he was motivated to attend by the growing use of police violence to crack down on protesters.

"As part of the system, we want to uphold and protect the core values and principles of the civil service, and serve the people of Hong Kong at such a crucial juncture," Cheung told RFA. " We want to take a pragmatic approach, and heal the rifts in Hong Kong society as quickly as possible."

"No matter how long this dark night lasts, dawn will come eventually," he said.

Another rally participant, who gave only her surnamed Chan, said she wasn't there for political reasons.

"I'm here on a matter of conscience, not of politics," Chan said. "We're not even saying that we won't leave without withdrawal at this point, but why are the police being allowed to treat citizens in this way?"

Police, thug violence

London-based rights group Amnesty International has said the police are largely to blame for protester violence, because they have a tendency to use tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, and batons to attack the crowd first, and that police justification that some protests hadn't received prior approval wasn't in line with international human rights standards.

Public anger began to spiral after a gang of triad-linked men in white shirts attacked train passengers at Yuen Long MTR station following the defacing of China's national emblems by protesters on July 21.

Nobody was arrested at the time, and police took around 40 minutes to move in on the attackers, who left dozens of people hospitalized, one in a critical condition.

Lam's second-in-command Matthew Cheung, who heads the civil service, said civil servants are required to be politically neutral.

"As a civil servant, it is okay to act as a citizen on your own time, but it is not acceptable to do something different from the government in the name of the civil service," Cheung said. "This will lead to public misconceptions."

Eleven more arrested

The rally came after police arrested a further 11 peole in connection with recent protests, including Andy Chan, who headed the now-banned pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP).

Chan shouted from the police van as he was taken away: "Go Hongkongers! Don't fear the white terror!"

The arrests came as hundreds of protesters continued to besiege police stations across the city, calling for the release of dozens of people—many of them high-schoolers, college students, and young professionals—detained on "rioting" charges in recent days.

Some 250 people gathered in protest outside Shatin police station on Thursday night, according to police spokesman, spraying black paint on surveillance cameras and hurling obscenities at police.

"They wrote humiliating words on the walls of the police station," the spokesman said. "They were arrested on suspicion of illegal assembly."

Threat to city's status

The amendments are widely seen as a threat to Hong Kong's way of life, which was supposed to have been protected by 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 members of the business community could be targeted for words and actions deemed illegal by Chinese officials.

They could then be extradited to face trial in Chinese courts, which are directly controlled by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Students, march organizers, and pro-democracy lawmakers have all rejected government attempts at initiating discussions, saying that having their demands met would be a precondition for talks.

Carrie Lam has said the amendments are "dead," but protesters say her assertion brings with it no legal guarantee that they won't be resurrected at a later date.

Reported by Wen Yuqing and Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Gao Feng for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


July 28, 2019


Police Fill Hong Kong Streets With Tear Gas in Bid to Disperse Angry Crowd

Police fired large numbers of tear gas rounds and rubber bullets in Hong Kong's central business district on Sunday, in a bid to disperse anti-government protesters after thousands gathered to make their anger known over recent violent attacks by triads and police alike.

At least four people were taken to hospital during the clashes, where they were in satisfactory condition.



While previous protests have been marked by slogans and banners opposing plans to allow extradition to mainland China, this weekend's protests have seen protesters start to use more aggressive tactics, returning police strobe lights with pocket lasers and ripping up paving stones to hurl at riot police after tear gas and rubber bullets were fired.

The protesters are now calling their movement a revolution to "Reclaim Hong Kong," a Chinese expression that can also mean "Free Hong Kong," depending on context.

Protester throws tear gas canister back at police during a protest in Hong Kong, July 28, 2019. (AP Photo)

Protester throws tear gas canister back at police during a protest in Hong Kong, July 28, 2019. (AP Photo)

"I’m at the protest in Sai Wan," Joshua Wong, a former student leader of the 2014 Occupy Central movement for fully democratic elections, said via his Twitter account.

"Outside the Chinese Liaison Office just now, police suddenly fired more than 10 rounds of tear gas against us (who were not charging at all)," Wong wrote.

"There was smoke everywhere. I’ve never suffocated like this before and felt close to fainting. Chaotic."

Dozens injured

Wong also said he had witnessed multiple injuries at the hands of police, as well as arrests: "Police using excessive force once again against peaceful protesters who are only occupying streets," he wrote.

"Elsewhere rubber bullets are also fired. Dozens are injured. Many are beaten and arrested amid the mess."

Local journalist Xinqi Su posted a photo of a livid-looking injury sustained by one protester after riot police charged on protesters.

"A young man's left ankle is bleeding," Su tweeted. "Another protester showed me a foam bullet and said that was what injured the man. This is the second foam bullet I saw on Connaught [Road]."

Map of the event. RFA graphic

One large crowd made its way from Admiralty in an easterly direction, blocking the road outside the police headquarters in Wanchai and posting messages on the building. Others continued to the glitzy shopping district of Causeway Bay, where they occupied a street outside the Sogo department store.

Meanwhile, another crowd approached the Chinese government's Central Liaison Office in Hong Kong Island's Sheung Wan district, building barricades on the street and throwing debris. When police fired tear gas, protesters began throwing fragments of paving stones back, prompting police to dispatch the special squad.

The standoff then moved to barricades hastily constructed from metal traffic barriers, cable ties, and umbrellas on Connaught Road and Des Voeux Road West.

The special riot quad quickly dispersed the crowd on Des Voeux Road, subduing many on the ground, while police continued to fire tear gas rounds until the air all around was thick with it, and people in restaurants and shops were unable to escape.

'Dodgy cops'

Earlier, police had authorized a gathering in Central district's Chater Garden, to which some 11,000 people turned up, chanting "Shame on the dodgy cops!" in a reference to the growing belief among protesters that the Hong Kong Police Force are acting as frontline political enforcers for the ruling Chinese Communist Party via chief executive Carrie Lam, and are colluding with triad criminal gangs.

Police said the lines of riot police were closing in on protesters late on Sunday.

"Police’s dispersal operation is still ongoing and a large number of protestors are still gathering in Sheung Wan area," the force said in a statement.

"Police officers have proceeded with another round of dispersal operation and are moving their cordon lines from Shun Tak Centre on the west side and Harbour Building on the east side. Also, Police have set cordon lines on the roads on the south side."

Public criticism of police is growing after they used tear gas in a heavily built-up residential area for the second day running, leaving families with children choking in nearby restaurants, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

But police hit back, saying that some protesters had set fire to a cart full of objects and shoved it at police lines.

"Some protestors committed arson at various locations ... seriously threatening the safety of everyone at scene," the force said. "Police condemn the protestors’ escalating violence and appeal to everyone at scene to stay calm."

The statement said Sunday's gathering was "unauthorized," although a peaceful demonstration did take place in an authorized location earlier in the day.

Earlier clashes

The renewed clashes came after 13 people aged between 18 and 68 were arrested in earlier clashes in the New Territories town of Yuen Long on Saturday, which came after thousands gathered to protest police inaction over a triad-related attack on train passengers a week earlier.

The arrestees are being held on suspicion of illegal assembly, possession of offensive weapons, assaulting police, and assault.

A total of 24 people were reported injured as of Sunday morning by the Hospital Authority, with two of them in a serious condition and six in a stable condition. The remaining 16 people were discharged after treatment. Four police officers were among the injured.

Meanwhile, police have arrested Max Chung, the man whose application to hold a rally in Yuen Long was turned down on the grounds that it could pose a threat to public safety.

Chung was arrested on suspicion of "incitement to illegal assembly" after speaking on a radio show on Sunday.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


July 26, 2019


Thousands Converge on Hong Kong Airport to Protest Violent Attacks on Protesters

Thousands of protesters including airline and travel industry staff gathered at Hong Kong's international airport on Friday in a spontaneous demonstration against plans to allow the extradition of alleged criminal suspects to face trial in mainland Chinese courts.

They were also protesting the Hong Kong police force's handling of vicious attacks last weekend by men in white shirts, some of whom have been found to have links to the city's triad organizations, that left 45 people in hospital and one person in critical condition.



Some sat down displaying posters that read "Tourist Warning! The Hong Kong government hires thugs to beat protesters" on the floor of the arrivals hall, while others greeted arriving passengers with chants of "Go Hong Kong!" and "Free Hong Kong!"

Others played video footage of the attacks on train passengers in Yuen Long for passersby to watch.

Protesters crowd Hong Kong International Airport on July 26, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Protesters crowd Hong Kong International Airport on July 26, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Victims and eyewitnesses have demanded to know why it took more than half an hour for officers to respond to distress calls after the attacks began in Yuen Long MTR station on Sunday night.

Hong Kong's second-in-command Matthew Cheung apologized on Friday for the police's handling of the attacks, but stopped short of ordering a public inquiry, one of the key demands of protesters since several weeks of mass demonstrations and sit-ins began on June 6.

"We are engaged now, if I put it rightly, in a reflective process on the whole issue," Cheung told journalists. "But our position has been explained clearly that we believe it's better to be pursued through the existing mechanism."

As well as an inquiry into police use of tear gas, rubber and textile bullets and batons on unarmed protesters on June 12, protesters are also demanding the formal withdrawal of amendments to the city's Fugitive Offenders Ordinance which would enable the rendition of suspects to face trial in mainland Chinese courts.

Angry about attacks

A member of the airport ground staff surnamed Hui said he is still very angry about last Sunday's attacks in Yuen Long, which was why he wanted to attend a protest.

"People from all walks of life and from different groups will come out, including us train drivers," Hui said. "This is a very good opportunity, because we can let people from all over the world know what is happening in Hong Kong."

"[They will see that] we in Hong Kong can hold very peaceful gatherings to say something as important as this," he said.

Staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital also staged a sit-in on the hospital tennis court on Friday, in protest at the police force's handling of the Yuen Long attacks, when dozens of unidentifed men in white shirts beat up train passengers with wooden and metal poles.

Police were at the scene for around one hour before moving in, and later claimed they were waiting for backup. And while 11 arrests have been made, none has yet been for a violent offense, though 45 people were injured, with one left in a critical condition.

A second group of more than 100 civil servants has issued another petition calling on the administration of Carrie Lam to set up an independent commission of inquiry.

The letter, the second of its kind this week, hit out at the government for failing to respond adequately to protesters' demand, and at police for their failure to prevent so many attacks at Yuen Long.

Determined to march

Max Chung, whose application for a protest march in Yuen Long on Saturday has been turned down out of fears for public safety, said he would march to the Yuen Long MTR Station anyway, in spite of fears that the march could be attacked again by pro-China thugs or possibly triad gangs.

An anti-extradition protester who gave only a nickname Nicole said a friend of hers was injured in the Yuen Long attack on Sunday.

"He hadn't gone down [to the platform] yet, but he was beaten up on the upper concourse," she said. "He also fought back against a few of them and then he fled."

Map of the event. RFA graphic

She said many people are concerned that the police were acting in collusion with the white-shirted attackers.

"A couple of days before July 21, we all received an online post saying that ... if people went to Yuen Long they would get beaten up," Nicole said.

She said two nearby police stations in Yuen Long and Tuen Mun were closed, and people were having trouble getting through to the 999 emergency number.

"This was all coordinated," she said. "Otherwise, how could you have such a coincidence?"

Indiscriminate assaults

Dozens of men in white shirts gathered near the Yoho Mall, part of the Yuen Long MTR subway station development, at around 6.00 p.m on Sunday, according to social media posts.

Some wore slogans that read "Protect Yuen Long" and "Guarding our homeland."

Members of the group began attacking and intimidating members of the public standing on an suburban rail platform, while another group entered the adjacent subway station at around 11.00 p.m.

Some social media reports said they were targeting anyone wearing black, in the belief that they had attended a mass anti-extradition rally earlier in the day, where protesters typically wear black T-shirts. However, other reports said they were attacking people indiscriminately.

Some passengers fought back with umbrellas and even a fire hose during the attacks, which lasted for nearly an hour before riot police moved in, according to eyewitness and local media reports.

Many in Hong Kong suspect pro-China lawmaker Junius Ho of involvement with the attack, after video footage of him shaking hands with men in white shirts was posted online. Ho has since said he was just chatting with passers-by.

China role suspected

Others believe the attacks may have had Beijing's tacit encouragement after Li Jiyi, an official from China’s Hong Kong liaison office, called on local residents to drive away any activists.

In a recording obtained by Reuters, Li can be heard telling a community banquet for hundreds of villagers in Hong Kong’s rural New Territories on July 11 to protect their towns and to chase anti-extradition protesters away.

“We won’t allow them to come to Yuen Long to cause trouble,” he said, to a burst of applause.

“Even though there are a group of protesters trained to throw bricks and iron bars, we still have a group of Yuen Long residents with the persistence and courage to maintain social peace and protect our home," Li is heard saying.

Bruce Lui, senior journalism lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, said people had put two and two together.

"No sooner had he said this than [the attacks happened], so everyone now thinks that mainland China played some kind of role," Lui said.

A Central Liaison Office official strongly denied any association with the attacks, in comments reported by the semi-official Hong Kong China News Agency on Thursday.

"The Liaison Office absolutely has to issue a strenuous denial to wipe away this association in people's minds," Lui said.

Demand to withdraw

Protesters are calling on Lam to formally withdraw amendments tabled to the Legislative Council (LegCo) that would allow the rendition of alleged suspects from Hong Kong to face criminal proceedings in mainland China.

They also want an amnesty for anyone arrested during mass protests against the amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance in recent weeks.

Critics say the move would undermine the legal "firewall" between two very different political and judicial systems, and the U.S. has warned that it will call into question Hong Kong's status as a separate trading port.

The amendments are widely seen as a threat to Hong Kong's way of life, which was supposed to have been protected by 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 members of the business community could be targeted for words and actions deemed illegal by Chinese officials.

They could then be extradited to face trial in Chinese courts, which are directly controlled by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Students, march organizers, and pro-democracy lawmakers have all rejected government attempts at initiating discussions, demanding an amnesty for all those arrested in connection with recent protests, an end to the official description of protesters as "rioting", and the formal withdrawal of the planned amendments before the end of the current LegCo term in 2020.

Lam has said the amendments are "dead" and will expire at the end of the current LegCo term in 2020, but campaigners say her assertion offers no legal guarantees.

Reported by Wong Lok-to and Lee Wang-yam for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Lu Xi and Lin Ping for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


July 21, 2019


Six Arrested as Hong Kong Police Slammed For Slow Response to Violent Pro-China Thugs

Police in Hong Kong arrested six men on Monday, some of whom had links to triads, after bloody attacks on shoppers and a pro-democracy lawmaker by unidentified men wielding makeshift weapons at a Hong Kong mall.

The vicious attacks were carried out by unidentified thugs in white T-shirts wielding wooden and metal poles, whom many fear were members of Hong Kong's criminal underworld of triads recruited by Beijing to intimidate anti-extradition and pro-democracy protesters.



They came just hours after anti-extradition protesters had defaced the emblem of the People's Republic of China outside Beijing's Central Liaison Office following an anti-extradition march of half a million people.

While the arrested men had all been wearing white T-shirts, they were arrested on suspicion of "illegal assembly" rather than assault charges following a string of indiscriminate beatings that left dozens seeking medical attention in Hong Kong hospitals, police commissioner Stephen Lo told journalists.

Screen grab taken from video showing a mob of men in white T-shirts attacking pro-democracy protesters at Yuen Long station in Hong Kong, July 21, 2019. (RFA Photo)

Screen grab taken from video showing a mob of men in white T-shirts attacking pro-democracy protesters at Yuen Long station in Hong Kong, July 21, 2019. (RFA Photo)

Photos were also posted on social media on Monday showing police wearing full riot gear strolling next to some men in white T-shirts, adding fuel to fears that the men had been hired to strike fear into political protesters and that police had colluded with the attacks.

The collusion theory was also underpinned by unanswered questions over why it took police who arrived in at Yuen Long's suburban line railway station more than an hour to intervene, during which time the attackers continued to attack passengers and passers-by.

Shops remained closed in the Yoho Mall attached to the railway station on Monday, with very few people around, giving the development the air of a frightened ghost town.

Chief executive Carrie Lam moved to dampen speculation that the attacks happened with tacit official approval on Monday, condemning the perpetrators of the violence in a statement to the media, in which she called the attacks "unacceptable,"

"Any explanation that lays responsibility for these attacks at the door of the Hong Kong government, or that blames me for them personally, has no basis in fact, because everyone has a duty to distance themselves from violence," Lam said.

"There is also no basis for saying that our colleagues in the police force were in league with these violent thugs," she said.

'Lack of faith in our police force'

Commissioner Lo also condemned the attackers' "lawless acts," and said the police wouldn't let the matter drop.

He also sought to dismiss fears that police hadn't acted sooner or arrested any of the white-shirted men for possession of an offensive weapon.

"Far from being triad members, we are opposed to anyone who breaks the law," Lo said. "All of these claims stem from a lack of faith in our police force, so I hope people will try to have more faith in the police."

Map of the event. RFA graphic

Meanwhile, several hundred people went to make complaints to the police watchdog over the failure of police to send backup sooner to aid the officers already at the scene.

A police officer who declined to be named said morale among the Hong Kong police is at a low ebb, and that the force is understaffed in suburbs like Yuen Long.

"The reason no police came to the scene was that most of the officers had been transferred to protect Central district [where half a million anti-extradition protesters marched on Sunday], and there were very few left in Yuen Long," the officer said.

"All they could do, without the numbers or the resources, was to report the situation to their commanding officers and wait until they had more officers and equipment before trying to restore order."

Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung said the government and police were lying," however.

"Please stop lying, because we saw on the live feeds yesterday evening that the officer supposedly in command was somehow unable to see the weapons, so what exactly were those guys in white shirts carrying?" Yeung said.

"The police should quit fooling themselves and everyone else," he said. "Was Yuen Long somehow outside of Hong Kong's jurisdiction last night? Did it declare independence? Did Hong Kong law somehow no longer apply there?"

"Dozens of people got attacked on that train of death, and you are telling me that this was done by ordinary Hong Kong citizens? It was the triads who attacked the people of Hong Kong," Yeung said.

Failure to intervene on time

The attacks in the suburb of Yuen Long left dozens of people in hospital amid growing public outrage at the failure of the city's police force to intervene in a timely manner.

Dozens of men in white shirts gathered near the Yoho Mall, part of the Yuen Long MTR subway station development, at around 6.00 p.m, according to social media posts.

Some wore slogans that read "Protect Yuen Long" and "Guarding our homeland."

Members of the group began attacking and intimidating members of the public standing on an suburban rail platform, while another group entered the adjacent subway station at around 11.00 p.m.

Some social media reports said they were targeting anyone wearing black, in the belief that they had attended a mass anti-extradition rally earlier in the day, where protesters typically wear black T-shirts. However, other reports said they were attacking people indiscriminately.

Some passengers fought back with umbrellas, and even a fire extinguisher during the attacks, which lasted for over an hour before riot police moved in, according to eyewitness and local media reports.

"Angry thugs forced open shuttered entrance with rods in their hands," off-duty journalist Jeffie Lam, who lives nearby, wrote in a thread on her Twitter account.

"Residents ran towards the mall as fast as they could. Some failed, got caught and attacked, with blood all over their face ... And there were no police officers. None," Lam wrote.

Jeffie Lam said some of the attackers had been carrying Chinese national flags.

"The men attacked anyone in the station indiscriminately, many of whom returned from the #antiELAB [anti-extradition] protest or just came over to support," she wrote. "They attacked people fiercely."

At least 45 people were sent to hospital, with one in critical condition and five in serious condition. Pro-democracy lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting and at least one journalist were among those injured, according to social media posts.

Police took an hour to move

MTR staff, who were also attacked by the mob, called the police, but officers didn't move in for at least an hour, during which time the attacks continued.

The MTR corporation announced the closure of Yuen Long station after a large crowd gathered.

Hundreds of community members and anti-extradition protesters said they would continue to patrol the area around the mall in a bid to protect local residents from further attacks.

March organizers the Civil Human Rights Front issued a statement strongly condemning the attacks on the public in Yuen Long, hitting out at the police for indulging the white-shirted "mob."

Police superintendent Yau Nai-keung, assistant commander of Yuen Long District, said they had received a call for help shortly before 11.00 p.m. on Sunday, and a team of officers were dispatched to the station.

He said that the patrol team hadn't intervened because they felt "their safety could not be guaranteed."

He said the failure of police to arrest some suspected attackers was due to uncertainty over their identity.

“Even those dressed in white, that doesn’t mean they are involved in the conflict," Yau told an early morning news conference that was reported by government broadcaster RTHK. "We will handle each case fairly – no matter the political camp they belong to."

Earlier, the station quoted Police Pat Heung division commander Li Hon-man as responding mockingly to journalists' questions about the length of time it took police to respond, replying that he "didn't have a chance to look at his watch."

Earlier in the day, anti-extradition protesters vandalized Beijing's Central Liaison Office in Sheung Wan district at the tail end of a peaceful mass protest against plans to allow the extradition of alleged criminal suspects to face trial in mainland China.

'Confrontations and injuries'

The administration of chief executive Carrie Lam issued a statement condemning violence, but focused on "outrageous" damage to property at the Central Liaison Office, mentioning the unprovoked attacks on people only further down the statement.

"These outrageous acts included hurling petrol bombs, setting fires, throwing bricks and blocking thoroughfares," the statement said.

"In Yuen Long, some people congregated at the MTR station platforms and the train compartments where they attacked commuters. This led to confrontations and injuries," it said.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the Central Liaison Office, a towering symbol of ruling Chinese Communist Party power in the city, and the frequent target of protests, after the main anti-extradition protest numbering nearly half a million had dispersed, according to online video footage.

Some protesters threw eggs at the building, while others painted over the emblem of the People's Republic of China in black and daubed graffiti over the official plaque on the office's gates.

The crowd chanted "Oppose rendition to China! Oppose the evil law! Investigate police violence!"

One protester at the scene told RFA: "We are a bunch of Hong Kong protesters who have been turning out in our millions since the beginning of June in a number of peaceful, non-violent and rational protests, including marches, to tell the government and the rest of the world to accede to our demands and opposition to renditions to China."

"There are also five upstanding people who haven't hesitated to lay down their lives for the cause, but sadly it seems that all that sweat and blood has flowed in vain," the protester said, in an apparent reference to recent suicides of anti-extradition protesters.

Office director Wang Zhimin said the "rioters" had hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and the dignity of China's national emblems, which were replaced overnight.

"The radicals devastated facilities, defaced the national emblem, painted words insulting the country and nation, which had (gone) far beyond a peaceful demonstration," the office said in a statement cited by state news agency Xinhua.

"Those behaviors have ... seriously challenged ... the authority of the central government," the statement said.

Protesters are calling on Lam to formally withdraw amendments tabled to the Legislative Council that would allow the rendition of alleged criminal suspects from Hong Kong to face criminal proceedings in mainland China.

Critics say the move would undermine the legal "firewall" between two very different political and judicial systems and likely call into question Hong Kong's status as a separate trading port.

They also want an amnesty for anyone arrested during mass protests against the amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance in recent weeks.

The amendments are widely seen as a threat to Hong Kong's way of life, which was supposed to have been protected by 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 members of the business community could be targeted for words and actions deemed illegal by Chinese officials.

They could then be extradited to face trial in Chinese courts, which are directly controlled by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Students, march organizers, and pro-democracy lawmakers have all rejected government attempts at initiating discussions, demanding an amnesty for all those arrested in connection with recent protests, an end to the official description of protesters as "rioting", and the formal withdrawal of the planned amendments before the end of the current LegCo term in 2020.

Lam has said the amendments are "dead" and will expire at the end of the current term of the Legislative Council in 2020, but campaigners say her assertion offers no legal guarantees.

Reported by Tam Siu-yin and Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Lu Xi for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


July 14, 2019


Dozens Injured After Police Storm Hong Kong Shopping Mall, Pursue Protesters

Dozens of people were sent to hospital and dozens more were arrested during clashes on Sunday between police and anti-extradition protesters at a shopping mall in surburban Hong Kong, with seven people still receiving treatment for their injuries.

Around 28 protesters and more than 10 police officers were injured after police in full riot gear stormed New Town Plaza in the New Territories town of Shatin, where they "kettled" protesters and prevented them from leaving on foot or by train, according to live video feeds and social media posts from the scene.



Seven protesters and six police officers were still receiving medical treatment on Monday, after police arrested more than 40 people on suspicion of public order charges that included "illegal assembly," as well as alleged assaults on police officers.

Meanwhile, several hundred people marched alongside more than a dozen hunger strikers—two of whom have gone 12 days without food to protest plans to allow extradition to mainland China—on a march to chief executive Carrie Lam's residence in downtown Hong Kong.

The hunger strikers are calling on Lam to formally withdraw amendments tabled to the Legislative Council that would allow the rendition of alleged criminal suspects from Hong Kong to face criminal proceedings in mainland China.

Riot police pursue, attack Hong Kong protesters in a shopping mall, July 14, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

Riot police pursue, attack Hong Kong protesters in a shopping mall, July 14, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

Critics say the move would undermine the legal "firewall" between two very different political and judicial systems and likely call into question Hong Kong's status as a separate trading port.

They also want an amnesty for anyone arrested during mass protests against the amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance in recent weeks.

Taking to the streets

Huge numbers of anti-extradition protesters, including families with young children and babies, took to the streets of Shatin on Sunday in the latest in a string of protests calling for withdrawal of the amendments, an amnesty for arrestees, an end to the description of protesters as "rioters."

They have also called for an independent public inquiry into the authorities' handling of the political crisis that has gripped Hong Kong since June 9.

By the evening, after the main march had ended, a huge crowd had gathered at the intersection of Yuen Wo Road and the Shatin Rural Committee Road, with police "kettling" protesters by surrounding them on all sides, forcing them into a nearby street.

Pro-democracy lawmakers at the scene tried to negotiate with police, who used similar tactics on protesters in the working-class district of Mong Kok last week, asking them to allow the crowd enough room to leave.

But police in full riot gear pursued a section of the crowd into nearby New Town Plaza, a privately owned and glitzy shopping mall, after they sought refuge there.

Police used pepper spray, and some protesters fought back, with some throwing umbrellas and other debris from higher floors on the heads of officers, who went to hunt them down, giving rise to chaotic images of scuffles and beatings with batons that left traces of blood on the marble flooring.

Police goals unclear

Civil Rights Observer group member Shum Wai-nam said it was unclear what the police had hoped to achieve from their kettling of protesters and storming of New Town Plaza.

"The thing that left everyone baffled was whether the police’s action yesterday was [intended as] a dispersal action or a round-up," Shum told RFA. "On the one hand they wanted the protesters to leave, but in actual fact a large number had already left the area they were clearing."

"Then, when the protesters had gone into New Town Plaza, was there any need to chase and arrest them in there?" he said. "That round-up escalated the situation and worsened the clashes."

Police commissioner Stephen Lo said police had chased the protesters into the mall because they were in pursuit of people who had broken the law.

As protesters marched in Shatin, around 1,000 journalists and their supporters marched silently to police headquarters under the slogan “Stop Police Violence, Defend Press Freedom,” in protest at what they said were abuses of police power targeting members of the press covering the recent protests.

"During the recent series of protests, journalists were unjustifiably dispersed, pushed away, verbally insulted, or even beaten by batons, [and] shot by bean bag rounds by police officers [on] a number of occasions," Chris Yeung, president of march organizers the Hong Kong Journalists' Association (HKJA) told the rally.

Attacks on police

Lam, meanwhile, defended her administration's use of the word "rioters" to describe anti-extradition protesters.

"Some people surrounded police officers and mounted seriously violent and crazed attacks on them, including the use of wooden sticks and various other weapons," she told a news conference on Monday.

"There was one incident that everyone can see from the TV footage in which a police officer was kicked down from an escalator and fell into the main lobby, to be chased by 10 or 20 rioters who mounted a crazed attack on him."

"We saw that the violent attacks on police officers were very well organized, with slogans, hand signals, supply lines. This was planned. They deliberately blocked roads and disrupted public order," she said.

However, organized actions including slogans, hand signals and supply lines have been a feature of peaceful anti-extradition protests for several weeks.

"Time and again, the police were attacked by rioters, and I think we really can describe them as rioters," Lam told a news conference in Hong Kong on Monday.

"There was an initial, peaceful demonstration, and when that was over, some people started to riot deliberately," she said. "We strongly condemn anyone who uses violence to protest, and who hurts our police force."

'A pack of wolves'

But Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung said that police had chased protesters into the mall "like a pack of wolves," beating them indiscriminately and firing pepper spray at them, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

Chung Kim-wah, assistant professor of social policy at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said blame for the clashes should be laid firmly at the feet of Lam's administration for refusing to accede to protesters' demands.

"They refuse to discuss total withdrawal [of the bill] ... which leaves people thinking they are just unwilling to admit their own mistake," Chung said.

"A lot of people are talking about an independent public inquiry now, which wouldn't focus on the police, but on every aspect [of the crisis]. But the government is refusing, because it thinks the anti-government protests will run out of steam," he said.

Chung said the government's intransigence has affected public support for Lam's administration.

"I think that the majority of Hong Kong people are now extremely unhappy with the political establishment, the chief executive and the police right now: the sense of opposition is very strong," he said.

"If they were to announce the bill was formally withdrawn and set up an independent inquiry led by lawmakers, I think that would ease public anger, even if it didn't entirely meet the five demands of the protesters," Chung said.

"Maybe the protests would die down a bit then, with not so many people coming out, and that would make dialogue easier."

Threat to status

The amendments are widely seen as a threat to Hong Kong's way of life, which was supposed to have been protected by 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 members of the business community could be targeted for words and actions deemed illegal by Chinese officials.

They could also be extradited to face trial in Chinese courts, which are directly controlled by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Students, march organizers, and pro-democracy lawmakers have all rejected Lam's attempt at initiating discussions, demanding instead that she first declare an amnesty for all those arrested in connection with recent protests, drop allegations of "rioting" used by police and some officials, and formally withdraw the planned amendments before the end of the current LegCo term in 2020, rather than just claiming that they will automatically lapse at that time.

Protesters also want an independent public inquiry into police use of tear gas, rubber and textile bullets, pepper spray, and batons during the anti-extradition campaign, especially during protests on June 12.

Lam has said the amendments are "dead" and will expire at the end of the current term of the Legislative Council in 2020, but campaigners say her assertion offers no legal guarantees.

Reported by RFA's Cantonese Service by Lau Siu-fung and Lee Wang-yam for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Lu Xi for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


July 9, 2019


Hong Kong's Lam Says Extradition Bill is 'Dead,' Campaigners Skeptical

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam appeared to extend an olive branch to the city's mass anti-extradition movement on Tuesday, promising that widely hated amendments to existing extradition laws were "dead."

"The bill is dead," Lam told a news conference, temporarily breaking into English from Cantonese to make her point. However, her phrase in Cantonese was closer to "dying peacefully in old age."

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam addresses the media during a press conference in Hong Kong, July 9, 2019. (AP Photo)

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam addresses the media during a press conference in Hong Kong, July 9, 2019. (AP Photo)

"There are still lingering doubts about the government's sincerity, or worries whether the government will restart the process in the Legislative Council (LegCo)," she said in an English statement immediately afterwards. "I reiterate here there is no such plan—the bill is dead."

Students have rejected the government's overtures out of hand, demanding that she first declare an amnesty for all those arrested in connection with recent protests, drop allegations of "rioting" used by police and some officials to describe the events of June 12, and formally withdraw the planned amendments before the end of the current LegCo term in 2020.

Lam on Tuesday stopped short of meeting those demands head-on, instead claiming that the government has never used "rioting" as an official description of the protests, and nodding to the fact that the vast majority of protesters marched in a peaceful and orderly way, consistent with Hong Kong's "core values."

Protesters also want an independent public inquiry into police use of tear gas, rubber and textile bullets, pepper spray and batons during the anti-extradition campaign, especially during protests on June 12.

Jordan Pang, student representative from the University of Hong Kong said the government must accede to all of the protesters' demands before students will consider entering a dialogue.

"Legally, it is meaningless to say that the bill is dead," Pang told RFA. "Technically, there is no difference between her saying that, and saying that the bill has been suspended."

"This isn't the withdrawal we're looking for," he said. "This movement isn't only about students; it's not even led by students."

"She should be answerable to the people of Hong Kong as to the use of outdated laws regarding illegal gatherings in the Public Order Ordinance, and the use of rioting charges to prosecute members of the public," he said. "This is absolutely unreasonable."

Amnesty 'not acceptable'

Lam said calls for an amnesty for those arrested were "not acceptable," because the decision whether or not prosecute should be taken independently of political considerations, and said that, instead of an independent inquiry, a "fact-finding study" would be carried out by the city's police complaints body, which analysts say has no investigatory powers and has to rely on the police investigating themselves.

She also insisted that a minority had engaged in "violent acts," in an apparent reference to protesters smashing their way into LegCo and spray-painting surveillance cameras and anti-extradition graffiti on government property, as opposed to attacks on people.

"We are sad to see these violent acts because they undermine the rule of law in Hong Kong," she said, calling for a community dialogue via an "open, constructive, interactive platform" that would include people from different backgrounds, especially young people.

"Whenever I and my officials are needed to take part in the dialogue, we are very happy to do so," she said, adding that the government "should build more open platforms to facilitate dialogues in a very frank manner."

Lam drew parallels between the 2014 Occupy Central democracy movement and a string of mass protests in recent weeks that have seen millions turn out to call on her to formally withdraw the extradition bill, as well as the temporary occupation of government buildings and LegCo, prompting shutdowns in each case.

The protests have also seen renewed calls for full universal suffrage with no restrictions on who can stand as a candidate.

"Five years ago, we finished Occupy Central, we moved on without addressing those fundamental problems," Lam said in a reference to campaigners' demands for fully democratic elections, which was ruled out by China's National People's Congress standing committee in August 2014.

"I don't think we could continue to ignore those fundamental and deep-seated problems in Hong Kong society," Lam said, repeating more publicly the government's recent attempts to set up dialogue with student unions and other groups.

Jimmy Sham, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front, which has organized some of the anti-extradition marches, said Lam's approach hasn't actually changed.

"Carrie Lam's basic position hasn't changed," Sham said. "She still seems to think that suspension is the same as withdrawal."

"But actually this is really a failure to respect the legislative processes of the Legislative Council: it's not legal terminology at all," he said. "I'm pretty sure you won't find any reference to 'dying peacefully in old age' on the statute books of Hong Kong."

Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said Lam's words are unlikely to put an end to the protest movement.

"There is no way that this political movement will be pacified by [her comments] right now," Wu said. "Public trust in the Hong Kong government is going to fall away to nothing, and we will continue to see acts of civil resistance from different communities."

"This administration has also lost any effective basis for governance, which will lead to its destabilization," he said.

Chinese University of Hong Kong Students Union president So Tsun-fung agreed that nothing appeared to have changed as a result of Lam's press conference.

"We don't know if Carrie Lam's proposals today really mean ... a dialogue that involves all citizens who can take part in public forums," So said.

"More importantly, we don't represent all of the [anti-extradition] protesters ... and she didn't promise not to prosecute any protesters, so basically it's not going to happen anyway."

 Hong Kong media boss and democracy campaigner Jimmy Lai meets U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in Washington, July 9, 2019. Credit Mark Simon

Hong Kong media boss and democracy campaigner Jimmy Lai meets U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in Washington, July 9, 2019. Credit Mark Simon

Meeting on autonomy

Hong Kong media boss and democracy campaigner Jimmy Lai met U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday to discuss concerns about the former British colony’s autonomy after an estimated half a million people took to the streets to protest the extradition bill on Sunday.

China's foreign ministry on Tuesday slammed the meeting, saying that Beijing “resolutely opposes intervention by foreign forces in Hong Kong affairs."

“[The United States] has repeatedly interfered in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs," a spokesman said, adding that Beijing has lodged a diplomatic protest over the meeting.

"[We have] demanded that the U.S. immediately stop the wrong words and deeds. Don’t keep going farther and farther on this wrong path," a spokesman for Beijing’s foreign ministry commissioner in Hong Kong said.

The amendments are widely seen as a threat to Hong Kong's way of life, which was supposed to have been protected by 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 members of the business community could be targeted for words and actions deemed illegal by Chinese officials, and extradited to face trial in Chinese courts, which are directly controlled by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Qiao Long and Gao Feng for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

July 1, 2019


Protesters Dispersed With Tear Gas After Storming Hong Kong Legislature

Hong Kong police fired tear gas late on Monday to disperse a large crowd of anti-extradition protesters who stormed the city's legislature, daubing the interior with protest banners and graffiti and hanging the flag of pre-1997 Hong Kong at the speaker's dais.

Large crowds began running from area around the Legislative Council (LegCo) as police in full riot gear began an operation using tear gas to clear protesters from the building, the area outside, and nearby Harcourt Road, livestreamed video footage showed.



Police hoisted warning signs to the crowd to disperse, before firing multiple rounds of tear gas, reaching the smashed glass doors and buckled security shutters of the legislature, where the crowd of anti-extradition protesters had surged through earlier in the night, shortly after midnight, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

Police fire tear gas at protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China, July 2, 2019. (AP Photo)

Police fire tear gas at protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China, July 2, 2019. (AP Photo)

"The LegCo building was violently attacked and [forcibly entered] illegally," the force said. "The police will conduct clearance operations shortly, and will use reasonable force ... and [we] appeal to [other] protesters to leave the vicinity."

As night fell, hundreds of anti-extradition protesters in Hong Kong stormed the building after huge crowds once more took to the streets to protest against plans to allow extradition to China, smashing through the reinforced glass with metal objects ripped from the nearby streets over several hours.

Clad in yellow construction helmets and using swimming floats strapped to their arms as shields, the protesters surged into the building after a long face-off with police in full riot gear, who appeared at first to offer no resistance.

Earlier, amid shouts of "Withdraw! Withdraw!", huge numbers of people joined a peaceful march that saw about half a million people come out against planned amendments to the Fugutive Offenders Ordinance that would allow alleged criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China to face trial.

Many marchers revived calls for fully democratic elections in the city. The ruling Chinese Communist Party ruled out such a move in 2014, sparking the 79-day Occupy Central movement.

Some chanted: "Genuine Universal Suffrage! Withdraw the Evil Law!" while others held up placards calling on chief executive Carrie Lam to to resign following weeks of mass protests at her plans to allow the rendition of alleged criminal suspects to mainland China.

Lam last month announced the plans would be shelved indefinitely, but stopped short of withdrawing them entirely, prompting fears that Beijing will insist the government try again when protests have died down.

 Protesters gather below a smashed window at the government headquarters in Hong Kong, July 1, 2019, the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. (AP Photo)

Protesters gather below a smashed window at the government headquarters in Hong Kong, July 1, 2019, the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. (AP Photo)

Public anger inttensifying

Marchers, who included people of all age groups including families with children, took up six lanes along the main route, in a turnout that appeared similar to video footage of the million-strong anti-extradition march of June 9.

Jimmy Sham, convenor of march organizers the Civil Human Rights Front, said the protesters' demands remain the same: to fully withdraw the amendments instead of merely postponing them; to order a public inquiry into police violence against unarmed protesters on June 12; to drop official wording describing that day's protests as a riot, as well as dropping all charges against previously arrested protesters.

"Yes, we saw a lot of clashes and conflicts today," Sham said, prior to the storming of the legislature. "What we are witnessing is public anger that is getting more and more intense."

A marcher surnamed Wong said she witnessed the protesters smashing the glass doors of LegCo.

"About half of the glass doors were smashed; there were so many people here," Wong said. "The numbers were about the same as on the million-strong march [of June 9]."

And a marcher surnamed Woo said that the majority on the peaceful demonstration wouldn't have agreed with the storming of LegCo.

"I think that this was just a small minority of Hong Kong people who would want to do such a thing," Woo said. "We should pursue those responsible ... but that the same time, what are we going to do to protect demonstrators from police violence?"

"The June 12 protesters were hit with so many tear gas canisters ... I think both sides should stop now," he said. "We need an independent inquiry with senior judges that will give the opportunity to rebuild mutual trust."

Protesters outside LegCo called on marchers to join the siege of the building as the march--which began at Victoria Park at 2.00 p.m. local time--continued to file into the area, lit by smartphone flashlights, long after nightfall.

Others occupied Harcourt Road, a major highway running past the government and legislative compound, closing it to traffic.

Deliberate ploy by the authorities?

Live video streams from the scene showed police in full riot gear waiting inside the LegCo building, as protesters clad in yellow construction helmets and wielding umbrellas gathered outside to cheer on protesters who took turns to smash holes in the building using metal traffic barriers and aluminium cladding removed from the building over several hours.

Police inside the building raised a red warning flag, which sometimes precedes the firing of tear gas and rubber bullets, but no tear gas was fired and protesters met with no resistance when they finally entered the building.

Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung said the move had been a deliberate ploy by the authorities to ensure that shocking images of a wrecked LegCo reached the world's media.

"This is a trap," Cheung, who was present at the time, told government broadcaster RTHK. "The protesters this morning who were storming LegCo could have been dispersed easily by the police. They were not a large number, we're talking about probably a few hundred people. And those who were actually taking action were even smaller in number. And yet the police did not do anything."

"They wanted this to happen. They wanted the public to see this," Cheung said.

Earlier in the day, protesters had also removed the flag of the People's Republic of China from a ceremonial flagpole outside the city's exhibition center, replacing it with a blackened flag of Hong Kong flown at half-mast, as the city marked the 22nd anniversary of its return to Chinese rule, a day that was deliberately chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the ruling Chinese Communist Party's founding in 1921.

Police had also been filmed beating some protesters with batons as they pushed towards the Convention and Exhibition Center, with social media posts showing photos of protesters with bleeding from head wounds, and amid reports of multiple calls for ambulances.

Rescue services said two police officers received hospital treatment after a chemical substance was reported at the entrance to LegCo at around 3.34 p.m., and that a hazardous materials team had identified the substance as P-phenylenediamine, which can cause itchy eyes, skin redness and swelling, and shortness of breath.

Inhalation of large amounts of the substance may also cause serious skin and respiratory tract burns, the statement said.

Chief executive Carrie Lam and Chinese dignitaries who usually attend a July 1 flag-raising ceremony marking the 1997 handover stayed away.

A protester defaces the Hong Kong emblem after protesters broke into the government headquarters in Hong Kong, July 1, 2019 (AFP Photo)

A protester defaces the Hong Kong emblem after protesters broke into the government headquarters in Hong Kong, July 1, 2019 (AFP Photo)

'Failed' Carrie Lam administration

The Hong Kong government said it "strongly condemns and deeply regrets the extremely violent acts committed by some protesters who stormed the Legislative Council (LegCo) Complex this afternoon."

In a statement on its official website, it said protesters had used "a roll cage trolley as a ram and iron poles to shatter glass doors." Government headquarters will remain closed on Tuesday, according to a separate statement.

But the pro-democracy Civic Party said Lam should resign, adding that hers was a "failed" administration that should have listened to the demands of the protesters.

"Since June 9, the people of Hong Kong have made their demands very clear to the [Hong Kong] Special Administrative Region government in a number of different ways, which hid from them for days, holding private meetings with the Chinese Communist Party and the police, showing their contempt for public opinion," the party said in a statement on its Facebook page.

"[This] triggered the mass protests on July 1," it said. "Responsibility for the serious conflicts caused by public anger and the despair of the young people lies with Lam's administration, which has remained blinkered and insensitive, pushing Hong Kong to an unprecedented sociopolitical crisis."

The protest was the latest in a string of mass actions in recent weeks, amid growing anger over the extradition amendments, and the use of tear gas, rubber and textile bullets, pepper spray and batons by police on unarmed protesters on June 12.

The amendments are widely seen as a threat to Hong Kong's way of life, which was supposed to have been protected by 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 members of the business community could be targeted for words and actions deemed illegal by Chinese authorities, and extradited to face trial in Chinese courts.

Pro-democracy lawmakers say the only solution to recurring mass protests in Hong Kong is for the government to allow fully democratic elections, a demand that was rejected by Beijing in 2014, sparking the Occupy Central, or Umbrella Movement.

Hong Kong's lawyers have also come out in support of protesters, saying that the extradition bill should be withdrawn completely, as opposed to the postponement offered by Carrie Lam last month.

Reported by Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

June 27, 2019


Extradition Protests Continue in Hong Kong Amid Calls For International Support

More than 1,000 protesters gathered outside Hong Kong department of justice on Thursday as part of an ongoing civil disobedience campaign against government plans to allow extradition to mainland China.

Calling for the total withdrawal of now-suspended amendments to the city's Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, protesters also demanded that the government withdraw its description of protests outside the legislature on June 12 as a "riot," and initiate an independent inquiry into widely publicized police violence on that day.



"The tyrannical ... government still refused to respond to our requests regarding the withdrawal of the Extradition Bill Amendment," the Chinese University of Hong Kong Student Union said in a statement calling for the protest, which it said was "to put further pressure on the tyrannical regime."

Police fire tear gas at protesters near the government headquarters in Hong Kong, on the 22nd anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China, July 2, 2019. (RFA Photo)

Protesters raise slogans demanding talks with Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice, June 27, 2019. (RFA Photo)

Former 2014 democracy protest leader Joshua Wong, who is now among the leaders of the political party Demosisto, was at the protest.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Fernando Chueng called on justice secretary Theresa Cheng to listen to the views of protesters, and accused the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam of "hiding" in its offices.

"If the secretary for justice had a normal relationship with the general public, and a large number of people showed up outside your offices with a number of demands, you would at least take the trouble to talk to them," Cheung said.

"There are still a couple of weeks to go before the Legislative Council (LegCo) goes into recess, and they keep canceling meetings of the Executive Council (ExCo)," he said. "All these officials are just hiding out in their holes now. They don't want to face the people."

"I think their attitude is appalling," Cheung said.

Put off by police

Chinese University student union representative Ying Lung Yi said some people had been put off from attending the demonstration by aggressive police searches on passersby.

"They were basically stopping and searching pretty much anyone who walked past," Ying said. "There must have been several hundred."

"People started walking back down the hill again when they saw [this]," she said.

Some staff at the department stayed away after protesters started to gather, and worked according to a "contingency plan," a justice department spokesperson said.

Ousted pro-democracy lawmaker and fellow Demosisto leader Nathan Law said he expects that a planned mass demonstration marking the anniversary of Hong Kong's 1997 handover to Chinese rule on Monday will be crucial to the anti-extradition movement, which has now started to reprise calls made during the 2014 Occupy Central movement for fully democratic elections.

"I think the July 1 march will be a crucial point, because the international community usually pays a lot of attention to it," Law told RFA. "That's why we will pay close attention to everything that takes place at the July 1 march."

An open letter

The protests came as campaigners raised millions of Hong Kong dollars in crowdfunding to place advertisements in major overseas newspapers ahead of the G20 summit in Japan at the weekend.

"Stand With Hong Kong at G20," read one advertisement taken out in the Financial Times on Thursday, alongside a photograph of a crowd of protesters holding a banner that read "suspension does not equal withdrawal."

The advertisement took the form of an open letter calling on G20 leaders to act to support Hong Kong appeared in the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper, the Süddeutsche Zeitung in Germany, the Globe and Mail in Canada, The New York Times and Belgium's Politico, government broadcaster RTHK reported.

The group called on readers of the newspapers to "ally with us, demanding the preservation of Hong Kong’s freedom and autonomy under the Chinese government."

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Journalists' Association (HKJA) hit out at the rough treatment of a TVB News cameraman during the protest outside the justice department.

"A cameraman from TVB News was surrounded, pushed, insulted, and driven away by a group of people outside the Justice Place today (27 June)," the group said in a statement on its website. "His face and eyes were even being shot by flashlights at a short range."

It said several similar incidents had occurred at protests in recent days, while some journalists reported that they had been prevented from filming.

"The Hong Kong Journalists Association condemns such kinds of actions, which seriously infringe on press freedom," it said.

"If front-line journalists are being disturbed and their reporting work obstructed, freedom of the press will be undermined, and the public’s right to know will also be weakened."

"[People] should not vent out their anger onto journalists even if they are dissatisfied with the reporting of their media organizations. They could send their opinions and views to the relevant news organizations," it said.

Hong Kong's secretary for security John Lee said the government had suspended the proposed amendments to the city's extradition laws, and would accept their natural expiration at the end of the current LegCo term next year. He once more refused to answer calls for a public inquiry into police violence on June 12, saying that the current, police-investigated complaints system was equal to the task.

Police Commissioner Stephen Lo meanwhile strongly condemned protesters who surrounded police headquarters late on Wednesday, covering the walls in obscene graffiti and blocking one of the exits with traffic barriers.

"Our daily work isn't just dealing with protests; it involves serving the people, come rain or shine, including cases of murder and child abuse, as well as daily traffic accidents," Lo said. "We hope everyone will stop embroiling us in political disputes and treating us as targets for attack."

But Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui said Lo had failed to see what was behind protesters' anger, however.

"Stephen Lo says people are taking out their anger on police, but has he ever thought about why they are so angry?" Hui said. "It's not good to continually create conflicts between the police and the people, but you can't blame them."

"The government itself is putting the police at the center of things, while refusing to solve the political crisis," he said. "It's not their fault, but the senior police leadership should show a bit of wisdom and quit blaming these young people."

Threat to status

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 members of 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.

Pro-democracy lawmakers say the only solution to recurring mass protests in Hong Kong is for the government to allow fully democratic elections, a demand that was rejected by the Chinese Communist Party in 2014, sparking the Occupy Central, or Umbrella Movement.

Hong Kong's lawyers have also come out in support of protesters, saying that the extradition bill should be withdrawn completely, as opposed to the postponement offered by Carrie Lam.

Reported by Tseng Lap-yin for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

June 21, 2019


Hong Kong Police Face Mounting Criticism Over Use of Force on Protesters

Hong Kong police have been the target of mounting public criticism over their use of force during protests outside the city's legislature on June 12 against plans to allow extraditions to mainland China.

Police fired a total of 150 tear gas canisters, 20 bean-bag rounds and a handful of rubber bullets during the clashes, which the ruling Chinese Communist Party-controlled media and Hong Kong police officers described as a "riot."



At least 81 protesters and 22 police officers were injured in the clashes, according to official figures, although doctors have later reported patients who were too afraid to seek treatment for their injuries for fear that police would access hospital data to locate and arrest them following several in-hospital arrests.

Hong Kong police fire large amounts of tear gas on crowds during a mass protest over a controversial extradition bill, June 12, 2019. (RFA Photo)

Hong Kong police fire large amounts of tear gas on crowds during a mass protest over a controversial extradition bill, June 12, 2019. (RFA Photo)

But eyewitnesses told RFA that claims by chief executive Carrie Lam that the violence was necessary "to maintain law and order" glossed over the unnecessary use of force in ways that endangered unarmed and mostly young protesters.

Meanwhile, large numbers of video clips and photos posted to social media showed police beating protesters with batons, or close-ups of people's traumatic flesh-wounds after they were hit by textile or rubber bullets.

In other clips, police in full riot gear fired pepper spray into the eyes and faces of demonstrators and reporters, 26 of whom have since filed complaints to the independent police watchdog.

Among the most serious was the launch of several tear gas canisters into a fleeing crowd of protesters at close range outside the CITIC building, prompting scenes that many compared to a disaster movie.

The large crowd tried to escape the gas, but a bottleneck formed as they tried to file through a single open door into the building, with others trying to break down locked doors to let more through.

Tear gas is generally used as a way to disperse crowds, not to fire on trapped crowds, or on people who are already leaving the scene.

Shatin district councillor Chris Mak was present at the scene.

"I saw someone who had been doused all over in pepper spray ... they kept saying to me 'don't touch me, don't touch me, my whole body is soaked in pepper spray, and then you will suffer too," Mak told RFA. "That made me so sad, so I took him to the emergency [first aid] station for help."

"[Once we got there], a tear gas canister landed right beside my foot, and that guy just pushed me away saying I shouldn't help him, in case I got caught in it myself," he said. "I felt awful ... why were the police firing tear gas at the first aid stations? I hadn't charged them or anything, so why did they fire tear gas at me?"

Mak said police also confiscated protesters' supplies of bottled water, saline and masks, which they planned to use to protect themselves and treat those hit by tear gas and pepper spray.

A Dong, who was a first-aid volunteer on Tim Mei Avenue on June 12, said his help station was also fired on with tear gas, forcing everyone to run to a different street and causing a crush as a huge crowd tried to file into a relatively small space.

"What I saw was that the police didn't consider the safety of the protesters in doing this," he said. "The protesters had gathered peacefully in Tim Mei Road, and weren't charging [police lines]."

"But the police kept firing tear gas into a large crowd of people, non-stop, with the aim of forcing them onto Harcourt Road [further from the legislature]," A Dong said. "Actually, there was a really large number of people there, and we were all worried about a stampede or that somebody would get trampled underfoot."

In the immediate aftermath of the clashes, 15 people were arrested for "illegal assembly" or charges related to "rioting", with 17 other arrests made.

Police Commissioner Stephen Lo and Carrie Lam both referred to protesters as "rioters," which analysts said helped to spark a march of two million protesters through Hong Kong on the following Sunday, calling for a change in official language and the unconditional release of those arrested, as well as total withdrawal of the extradition amendments and Lam's resignation.

A police officer said the protests were designated a "riot" because protesters charged police lines in several places, meaning that police were then authorized to use tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them.

"But some people still wouldn't leave," the officer said, adding that he thought police were being unfairly vilified over the incident.

Two other front line police officers who declined to be named that they were outside the Legislative Council (LegCo) on the day of the clashes.

They said police had fired tear gas after warning protesters not to try to charge police lines again.

In an apparent bid to soften official language around the clashes, Police Commissioner Lo announced on June 17 that only part of the protest had been designated a riot, and that only five of those arrested had been charged with "rioting."

But Progressive Lawyers Group convenor Billy Li said the concept of a designated "riot" is legally meaningless.

"Anything can be designated a riot where a group of people gather together and act to disturb public order," Li said. "If it breaches the peace, even if they don't resort to extreme behavior such as throwing bricks or burning tires, as long as there are clashes, this can constitute a 'riot'."

Li said such wording is legally meaningless and used purely for political effect.

Lam later said that anyone was welcome to lodge a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) if they wanted to accuse police of misbehavior, while protesters countered that this wasn't easy owing to a lack of police identification number displaced on officers' uniforms.

But Civil Rights Observer group observer member Shum Wai-nam dismissed her suggestion as "ridiculous."

"In the 10 years since the IPCC was set up, it has been criticized ... because it is a case of the police investigating themselves, because only they have investigative powers; the IPCC itself does not, and that definitely isn't an effective system," Shum said.

"Its performance has been uninspiring from the start," he said. "No observer from the IPCC went to monitor the situation at such large-scale demonstrations, which I think is a total dereliction of duty on the part of the IPCC."

Speaking in LegCo on June 19, Civic Party lawmaker Au Nok-hin called on police to pledge to avoid upper-body injuries in the event of similar clashes.

"Was this continual firing the minimum level of force that you needed to use for the purpose of dispersing the crowd?" Au asked security secretary John Lee.

Lee, responding, apologized for a "lack of explanation" of police actions, but replied that the use of force had been "appropriate and necessary."

"The police will investigate these complaints in a fair and impartial manner," Lee said, but stopped short of ordering a public inquiry, another key demand of protesters.

His response prompted shouts for his resignation among pro-democracy lawmakers in the LegCo chamber.

Reported by Tam Siu-yin and Lee Wang-yam for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Lu Xi for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

June 16, 2019


Hong Kong People Demand Withdrawal of Extradition Bill in Massive Protest

Nearly two million people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to call for the total withdrawal of an extradition law, as crowds filled several streets in the downtown area in what organizers said was likely the biggest march in the city's history.

Protesters wearing black filled several major streets between Causeway Bay and government headquarters two miles away, shouting "Withdraw! Withdraw!" and calling for the resignation of the city's leader Carrie Lam, who announced on Saturday that her administration would "postpone" plans to allow people to be sent to face criminal charges in mainland China.



Live video footage from the city also showed thousands lining up to lay flowers at the Pacific Place shopping mall, where a man fell to his death on Saturday after unfurling a banner that read: "Completely Withdraw the China Extradition Bill. We Were Not Rioting. Release the Students and the Injured."

Hundreds of thousands fill Hong Kong's streets demanding 'complete withdrawal' of a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China, June 16, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

Hundreds of thousands fill Hong Kong's streets demanding 'complete withdrawal' of a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China, June 16, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

A yellow plastic raincoat hung near the mall, with the words "Carrie Lam is killing Hong Kong. The police are cold-blooded criminals." Fire services had earlier removed a large yellow banner that read "Defend Hong Kong" from the city's iconic Lion Rock in Kowloon.

Thousands of people also stood in queues waiting for public transport access to the route of the march, while thousands more poured into the area around government headquarters from other directions before the main march had even arrived.

Police had initially set aside only part of the highway for the march, but the sheer numbers attending meant that it quickly overspilled into several parallel streets, gradually closing off lanes available to traffic.

Police were visible, but were in regular uniforms, while crowds parted in an orderly manner to allow emergency vehicles and departing buses to clear the scene.

Numbers grow

As the crowd swelled with the incoming march, traffic came to a halt as protesters began taking up further space outside the central government complex on Harcourt Road, a key site of the 2014 Occupy Central movement for fully democratic elections.

By nightfall, the six-lane highway was packed with protesters waving lit up smartphones and chanting, with more continuing to arrive at the scene.

Later in the evening, while the crowd thinned, some protesters made plans to dig in for the night and begin an occupation, while others left messages of support and protest on the "Lennon Wall" used previously by pro-democracy campaigners in 2014.

Police tried early on Monday to persuade protesters to leave, government broadcaster RTHK reported, but were unsuccessful. However, the six-lane Harcourt Road urban highway was clear and open to traffic by 11.00 a.m. local time, the report said.

Most of the crowd were clad in black, as called for by protest organizers the Civil Human Rights Front, and many wore a white mourning flower as a mark of respect for the protester who died. High-schoolers folded white origami flowers, while flower shops donated white lilies to be used as a mark of respect at Pacific Place.

"What I really want is for Carrie Lam to withdraw the bill and relieve all the social pressure," the group's spokeswoman Bonnie Leung told reporters. "So we demand Carrie Lam apologize to the people ... to the protesters, also to withdraw saying that the protest was a riot."

"Only when Carrie Lam apologizes, withdraws the bill, and steps down will Hong Kong people end all of our protests," she said.

'No sort of answer'

Protesters on the ground agreed.

"I think Carrie Lam is talking rubbish," a student told RFA at the protest. "I think she's pussyfooting around the issue. I think she should withdraw the bill, not postpone it. That's no sort of an answer to give the people of Hong Kong."

One father said he had come out after his young son saw footage of the police beating protesters on Wednesday.

"I didn't have any way to explain why the nice policemen were dressed up as Transformers and beating up these unarmed kids," he said.

"We try to teach children that the police are there to protect everyone, but their actions that day were entirely about oppressing people."

After six hours of renewed protest on Sunday, Lam issued an apology via the government's press office.

"The Chief Executive apologizes to the public and promises to accept criticism with the utmost sincerity and humility," the statement said. "[She] acknowledges that government failings have caused a high degree of conflict and tension in Hong Kong society."

"The government reiterates that there is no timetable for restarting the process," it said, but stopped short of withdrawing the planned amendments entirely.

March organizers the Civil Human Rights Front dismissed the statement.

"This is no f***ing apology at all," the group said in a post on its Facebook page. "She is only apologizing for 'government failings,' not for pushing through this draconian bill or the violent crackdown by police."

Police violence protested

Protesters also waved signs that read "Stop Killing Us!" in protest at police violence against protesters who surrounded the city's Legislative Council (LegCo) on Wednesday, while others took issue with the government's description of that action as a "riot" that "forced" police to use batons, tear gas, rubber and bean bag bullets, and pepper spray to keep order.

Others held up banners that read "Hong Kong Limit. Do Not Cross!" and "You SHOT Us,!" in imitation of police warning banners used before the firing of tear gas rounds.

Police lined metal traffic barriers around government headquarters at the start of Sunday's march, but were relatively few in number, and most wore regular uniforms instead of full riot gear.

Some protesters wore T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Freedom - Hi!" in English, a pun on a Cantonese expletive shouted at protesters by a special police officer in a viral video earlier in the week.

Others chanted, in a reference to Carrie Lam's earlier remark that she would no more give in to protesters' demands than she would to her small child, "Carrie Lam is not our mom!"

Christian protesters sang a popular hymn "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord" and turned out to provide water and supplies to protesters, as well as to call for a peaceful demonstration.

The Civil Human Rights Front has also called for a general strike on Monday, vowing to go ahead with the strike unless Lam fully withdraws the extradition bill.

Support in Taiwan

Meanwhile, some 10,000 people turned out to support Hong Kong's protest in Taiwan, whose democratic government has repeatedly criticized the extradition bill and Lam's use of a Taiwan murder case as justification for closing a "legal loophole."

Holding up signs that read "Taiwan with Hong Kong,!" protesters gathered in the capital, Taipei, watching a live feed of the Hong Kong protests on a large screen.

Taiwan-based student activist Ho Wing-chan, who founded the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance Concern Group, said many present were angry over police violence meted out during Wednesday's protests.

"We condemn the Hong Kong government's suppression of peaceful protests, and we hold the police responsible," Ho said. "We demand that the Hong Kong government recognize that the demonstration on June 12 wasn't a riot."

"Please release all protesters and cease all prosecutions," he said. "We demand that the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance be withdrawn, not just postponed."

U.S.-based legal scholar Teng Biao also attended the Taiwan protest.

"Freedom isn't a gift, but a duty that everyone must fulfill," Teng said. "In supporting Hong Kong against China renditions, we should be able to render this law defunct, and the Chinese Communist Party regime with it."

Lin Fei-fan, who led the Sunflower movement that occupied Taiwan's parliament, the Legislative Yuan, to oppose closer ties with China under then president Ma Ying-jeou, said the postponement of the extradition bill means that it could be reintroduced to Hong Kong's legislature at any time.

"The Legislative Council could still move to amend the law ... allowing renditions to China in future," Lin said. "We must once again condemn the Hong Kong government."

'Living under the shadow'

Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu tweeted: "I salute the brave #HongKong citizens on the streets, uncowed by the threat of police brutality. The people of #Taiwan share your values & struggle."

Wu said both Taiwan and Hong Kong live "under the shadow" of the Chinese Communist Party regime, which has refused to rule out the use of military force to invade and annex Taiwan in the name of "unification."

"We shall overcome together," he said.

The amendments, which Lam has said need to be put on hold and re-explained, not withdrawn, are widely seen as a huge 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 all be targeted for actions deemed illegal by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

The move to change Hong Kong's extradition laws has left many in Taiwan feeling very worried about their future, too.

In a Jan. 2 speech titled "Letter to our Taiwan compatriots," Chinese President Xi Jinping said that Taiwan must be "unified" with China and refused to rule out the use of military force to annex the island.

But Tsai has repeatedly said that Taiwan's population of 23 million have no wish to give up their sovereignty, a view that is borne out by repeated opinion polls.

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Wen Yuqing and Chung Kuang-cheng for the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

June 15, 2019


Hong Kong 'Suspends' Renditions Bill as Campaigners Insist on Total Withdrawal

Hong Kong's chief executive Carrie Lam on Saturday announced the suspension of her government's bid to change the city's extradition law to allow renditions to mainland China, but organizers of recent mass protests said the concession was unacceptable, and that a demonstration planned for Sunday would go ahead.

After repeated internal deliberations over the last two days, I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise, restart our communication with all sectors of society, do more explanation work and listen to different views of society," Lam told a news conference on Saturday.


Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam announces suspension of work on a bill amending Hong Kong's extradition law, June 15, 2019. (RFA Photo)

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam announces suspension of work on a bill amending Hong Kong's extradition law, June 15, 2019. (RFA Photo)


"The [Legislative] Council will halt its work in relation to the bill until our work in communication, explanation and listening to opinions is completed. We have no intention to set a deadline for this work," she said.

However, Lam stopped short of complete withdrawal of the bill, and continued to justify police use of rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray as a necessary means to restore "order."

The Civil Human Rights Front, which organized a million-strong peaceful protest against the proposed legal amendment last Sunday, said Lam's concession was unacceptable.

"The world was shocked by the fact that Hong Kong's police fired on its people," the group said in a response on its Facebook page. "Today, Carrie Lam's response was that it was a natural part of law enforcement. "

"Withdrawal, not suspension! See you tomorrow in Victoria Park!" it said, in a reference to the starting point for Sunday's march.

The post called for a complete withdrawal of the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, a retraction of the government's description of protesters as "rioters," the pursuit of those responsible for police brutality, and for Lam's resignation.

Too little, too late

The group's position was echoed by pro-democracy lawmakers.

"Democrats in Hong Kong simply cannot accept this suspension, because a suspension is temporary," Claudia Mo, convenor of the pro-democracy camp in the Legislative Council (LegCo), told government broadcaster RTHK.

"The pain is still there; you are just delaying the pain," Mo said, calling Lam's concession "too little, too late."

"If she stays on, we stay on," Mo said in reference to Wednesday's surrounding of LegCo by protesters that sparked police violence and forced the legislature to shut down for two days.

Mo also called on the government to stop calling the mass protest a "riot."

"It was not a riot in any sense," she said.

Hong Kong police said they would facilitate "a safe and orderly public event" on Sunday.

"Police appeal to the event participants to remain calm, be considerate and co-operative, as well as to express their views in a peaceful manner," the government said in a news release about traffic arrangements for Sunday's march.

'Taiwan no excuse'

In her announcement, Lam said that the original urgency behind the extradition amendments had now been lost, because Taiwan officials had repeatedly said that their democratic government wouldn't follow any extradition process that resulted from them.

The inability of Hong Kong to extradite one of its residents to Taiwan to face trial for murder had been a key plank of Lam's justification for the renditions law.

But Taiwan foreign minister Joseph Wu hit out at Lam on Twitter, calling her attempt to use Taiwan as an excuse for the extradition plan "shameful."

"I’m deeply upset by the assault on freedom & #HumanRights in #HongKong," Wu wrote in a signed tweet on the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs' official account.

"Chief Executive Carrie Lam must listen to the people & take full responsibility," Wu said. "Blaming #Taiwan is immoral, shameful & unacceptable. Embrace democracy & stand on the right side of history!"

Police condemned

Wednesday's protests by tens of thousands of people led to the postponement of a LegCo debate on the bill's second reading, and the widespread condemnation of police for their use of tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, and beatings in their bid to disperse the crowds.

An estimated 1.03 million people took to the streets of Hong Kong last Sunday in a mass demonstration against the amendments, but Lam at that time merely reiterated her determination to get the proposed amendments to the extradition law through the legislature.

Critics fear the amendments could pose a huge 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.

The move also sparked widespread concern that the city could lose its status as a separate legal jurisdiction and trading entity, and that journalists, visitors, rights activists, dissidents, democratic politicians, and the business community could all be targeted for actions deemed illegal by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

Reported by RFA's Mandarin and Cantonese Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

June 12, 2019


Hong Kong Police Use Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas to Quell Extradition Protests

Police in Hong Kong fired rubber bullets, pepper spray, and tear gas at protesters as tens of thousands of people surrounded the city's legislature on Wednesday, in a bid to block a debate on a law allowing extradition to mainland China.

Crowds of mainly young people shouting "Withdraw the law!" and "No China renditions!" surrounded government headquarters and the Legislative Council (LegCo), which was forced to postpone a debate on the government's changes to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.



Wielding umbrellas and wearing masks, protesters used metal road barriers to block off access to the LegCo chamber, charging past police in full riot gear to gain access to the street outside government headquarters in Admiralty district.

Police fire tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong's Admiralty District, June 12, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Police fire tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong's Admiralty District, June 12, 2019. (AFP Photo)

However, they were pushed back by several rounds of tear gas, with police eventually regaining control of the area on Wednesday evening.

Protesters said they had one basic demand.

"We want the government to withdraw these amendments, not to pass them," a protester who asked to remain anonymous said. "Even if we come out in force, the government will probably stick to its hardline position, but I still wanted to try."

"Nobody should be able to say we were indifferent about this," he said.

The government called the protests a "riot," warning that "any acts endangering public order and public safety will not be tolerated. Police will take resolute actions to restore social order and protect public safety."

It said police "had to escalate the use of force" after protesters repeatedly charged the police cordon line, ignoring warnings to clear the area, adding that some had set fires and attacked police officers with makeshift weapons, a claim that was hotly contested on social media.

'Excessive force'

London-based rights group Amnesty International called for an end to the use of "excessive" force by police.

"The excessive response from police is fueling tensions and is likely to contribute to worsening violence, rather than end it," Amnesty International's Hong Kong director Tam Man-kei said in a statement.

"The ugly scenes of police using tear gas and pepper spray against overwhelmingly peaceful protesters is a violation of international law," Tam said.

"Police have a duty to maintain public order, but in doing so they may use force only when strictly necessary. Hong Kong’s police have today failed to live up to this standard."

Tam said the police had taken advantage of the violent acts of a small minority to use force against the majority of peaceful protesters.

"Tear gas and projectiles like rubber bullets are notoriously inaccurate and indiscriminate and can result in serious injury and even death," Tam said.

A protester surnamed Au told RFA at the scene: "I wouldn't have been able to live with myself ... if I hadn't come out today to tell the government that this is unacceptable. I would have been letting down the next generation."

"Maybe if you do nothing because you are scared or worried, you have already affected the outcome," she said. "At least action is a kind of outcome, and it's better than wrestling with your conscience."

A fellow protester surnamed Wong said people were infuriated at the attempt by the administration of chief executive Carrie Lam to railroad through LegCo amendments that will enable the ruling Chinese Communist Party to request the handover of alleged criminal suspects to face trial in mainland Chinese courts.

"Really, I think there should have been some time for debate," Wong said. "The whole thing was rushed and forced through from the start, and the amendments were problematic in so many ways."

The clashes came after workers went on a strike called by pro-democracy politicians, students boycotted class, and many businesses closed in protest at the amendments.

LegCo President Andrew Leung announced that the scheduled date on the legal changes would now happen at an unspecified "later time."

Pro-democracy lawmakers are calling for the debate to be canceled outright and the amendments to be withdrawn.

Police fire tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong's Admiralty District, June 12, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Police fire tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong's Admiralty District, June 12, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Protests will continue

Jimmy Sham, convenor of co-organizers the Civil Human Rights Front, has said the protests and occupation will continue until Lam withdraws the planned amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.

Civic Party lawmaker Au Nok-hin announced Leung's decision to a waiting crowd, saying it was both good and bad news.

"The good news is that the debate will now not happen at 11.00 a.m.," he said.

Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan said the cancelation of the debate signaled an initial victory for the protesters.

"This is your victory, isn't it?" Wan told protesters. "But we can't leave today, because they have to withdraw the amendments entirely."

"I really hope that everyone will show restraint, and not give the powers that be any excuse to suppress us," he said. "This is just the beginning ... this isn't over. They must withdraw the amendment!"

Police fire tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong's Admiralty District, June 12, 2019. (AFP Photo)

Police fire tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong's Admiralty District, June 12, 2019. (AFP Photo)

A dangerous juncture

Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai agreed.

"It should be very clear by now that Hong Kong is at a dangerous juncture," Wu said. "We do not want any unpleasant incidents."

"But we know that many Hong Kong citizens are waiting for Carrie Lam to withdraw this evil law, which is the only way to stop this display of public anger," Wu said.

Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung said withdrawal of the proposals was now the only responsible way forward for Lam's administration.

"At the very least, she should shelve it and resolve the crisis," Cheung said. "Tensions are so high right now that I fear young people in Hong Kong will get hurt if she takes a hard line and requires the police to use force."

And People Power lawmaker Raymond Chan said continuing with the LegCo debate would further inflame the situation.

"Everything that is said, and every argument that is made, will motivate more Hong Kong people to come out," Chan said. "We feel that we should not go ahead in a situation of such urgency."

"[The delay] will also give the government more time to think ... and to seriously consider withdrawing this evil law," he said.

Seven former high-ranking officials in the Hong Kong government added their voices to the growing calls for the amendments to be shelved or withdrawn.

Meanwhile, religious groups including the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong and Buddhist, Taoist, and Muslim groups issued a joint statement calling on the government to seek a solution in a restrained and peaceful way.

Police fire tear gas at protesters in Hong Kong's Admiralty District, June 12, 2019. (AFP Photo)

'Utterly saddened'

On the democratic island of Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen said she was "utterly saddened" to see rubber bullets being fired in Hong Kong.

"To the people of Hong Kong: you may feel your demands for freedom seem to fall on deaf ears, please know that all like-minded friends in #Taiwan & around the world are standing with you," Tsai said via her Twitter account.

Johns Hopkins University politics professor Ho-fung Hung said the protests had at least demonstrated clearly to the rest of the world the strength of opposition to the rendition law in Hong Kong.

"The people of Hong Kong have uttered a resounding 'No!', and if the government continues to stick to its hard line, then this will be quite simply be violent coercion," Hung wrote in a commentary aired on RFA's Cantonese Service on Wednesday.

"If Hong Kong people hadn't taken to the streets in huge numbers, the powers that be would be able to create the illusion that they weren't strongly opposed to the amendments, or that they even supported it," he said.

"Taking to the streets is still important, because it serves as a strong and clear expression of public opinion," Hung wrote.

Public anger, opposition

An estimated 1.03 million people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday in a massive outpouring of public anger, but Lam merely reiterated her determination to get the proposed amendments to the extradition law through the legislature, a move critics said sparked clashes between police and protesters as most participants went home.

Critics fear the planned amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, which will likely be waved through by a pro-Beijing majority in LegCo, pose a huge 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.

The amendment—which the ruling Chinese Communist Party wants implemented "urgently"—has sparked widespread fear that the city will lose its status as a separate legal jurisdiction, and that rights activists and dissidents in the city could be targeted by Beijing for actions deemed illegal across the internal border.

Judges, lawyers, opposition politicians, rights activists, business groups, and journalists have all expressed vocal opposition to the plan, which will allow China to request the extradition of an alleged suspect from Hong Kong based on the standards of evidence that currently apply in its own courts.

The most likely jurisdiction to use the proposed provision is mainland China, which currently has no formal extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and Lam has tried to reassure people that legal safeguards will be used to safeguard the rights of suspects.

But lawyers, who last week staged a silent protest at the planned amendments, say the government's supposed safeguards are meaningless.

Reported by Tam Siu-yin, Wong Lok-to and Wen Yuqing for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

June 9, 2019


One Million March in Hong Kong Against Renditions to Mainland China

Police fired pepper spray on several hundred protesters who gathered in Hong Kong at the tail end of a million-strong protest on Sunday against plans to allow the rendition of alleged criminal suspects to mainland China.

Riot police were called in after several hundred protesters besieged the city's legislature at the end of the march, which had otherwise gone peacefully, government broadcaster RTHK reported in the early hours of Monday, local time.



It said protesters who heeded a call to besiege the Legislative Council (LegCo) ended up in violent clashes with the police shortly after midnight, with officers repeatedly firing pepper spray and hitting demonstrators with batons.

Hong Kong witnessed its largest street protest in at least 15 years, as crowds massed against plans to allow extraditions to China, June 9, 2019.  (AFP Photo)

Hong Kong witnessed its largest street protest in at least 15 years, as crowds massed against plans to allow extraditions to China, June 9, 2019. (AFP Photo)

The protesters blocked a street, ramming police officers with metal barriers and threw bottles at them during chaotic scenes, RTHK said, adding that a number of journalists were also injured in the melee.

The police warned protesters that all their gatherings were illegal, it said.

As an estimated 1.03 million people took to the streets of Hong Kong in a massive outpouring of public anger, the city's government reiterated its determination to get the proposed amendments to the extradition law through the legislature.

Shouting "Withdraw the evil law!" and "Oppose renditions to China!" protesters -- many of whom were wearing white to represent "light and justice" -- continued to crowd onto the city's streets after the march left Victoria Park, swelling the ranks of the demonstration in spite of police attempts to impose crowd controls at key subway stations along the route.

The number of passengers alighting at Tin Hau, North Point, Causeway Bay and Tsimshatsui stations were subject to police controls, with some trains ordered not to stop at Tin Hau at all.

A protester surnamed Wong who said he had just graduated high school said the planned amendments to the Fugitive Offenders' Ordinance would pose a huge 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.

"I'm a Hong Konger born and bred, and I would have come on this march with my last breath, to speak out for Hong Kong," Wong told RFA. "The [proposed amendments to the] Fugitive Offenders Ordinance pose such a threat to Hong Kong."

"If passed, this law will have a huge impact on Hong Kong."

Yellow umbrellas

Marchers waved placards saying "No China Extradition!", while many in the crowd carried yellow umbrellas reminiscent of the 2014 democracy movement bearing the words: "Keep hold of freedom: oppose the evil law!"

"There are so many people here," eyewitness Wang Yan told RFA.

"They're on the sidewalks, on the overhead bridges. It's so packed that we can't move."

"I've been coming to demonstrations for many years now, and this is the biggest one I've seen."

A fellow protester surnamed Ho said he had brought his daughter on the march.

"This government won't listen to reason, so we'll have to make them listen to reason, and undergo consultation, and do this properly," Ho said. "They shouldn't railroad this law through [the legislature]."

"I need to know exactly why they want to amend this law: matters that have a huge impact on everyone shouldn't be decided on the say-so of one or two individuals," he said.

A protester surnamed Lee said the amendments, once implemented, will offer the ruling Chinese Communist Party a range of excuses to take Hong Kong residents across the border to face trial.

The government's planned legal amendment—which the ruling Chinese Communist Party wants implemented "urgently"—has sparked widespread fear that the city will lose its status as a separate legal jurisdiction, and that rights activists and dissidents in the city could be targeted by Beijing for actions deemed illegal across the internal border.

Judges, lawyers, opposition politicians, rights activists, business groups, and journalists have all expressed vocal opposition to the plan, which will allow China to request the extradition of an alleged suspect from Hong Kong based on the standards of evidence that currently apply in its own courts.

Hong Kong witnessed its largest street protest in at least 15 years, as crowds massed against plans to allow extraditions to China, June 9, 2019.  (AFP Photo)

Legal safeguards doubted

The most likely jurisdiction to use the proposed provision is mainland China, which currently has no formal extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and Lam has tried to reassure people that legal safeguards will be used to safeguard the rights of suspects.

But lawyers say said the government's supposed safeguards are meaningless, and said they had staged a silent protest in a bid to get more people out onto the streets for Sunday's march.

Some protesters faced off with police on Sunday after the authorities refused to open up more traffic lanes to accommodate the demonstration.

"According to the notice of no objection to this protest issued by police, you are obliged to use the sidewalk, the westbound traffic lane and the east-west tram line for the march," a police officer told protesters.

However, a number of protesters leaped over the barrier, blocking oncoming traffic at Causeway Bay, which had no way to move in any direction.

By the time the march arrived outside Hong Kong's Legislative Council at around 4.00 p.m. local time, police had opened up all lanes of traffic along its route to protesters.

Seven people were arrested during the protest, one of them for assaulted a police officer, a police spokesman said on Sunday, calling on demonstrators to leave the area as soon as the march was over.

"The police would like to call on all protesters to leave the area in a peaceful and orderly manner after arriving at government headquarters," the spokesman said.

The Hong Kong government recognized the right of protesters to express their views, but refused to change the planned passage of the bill through LegCo.

"As a free, open and pluralistic society, we acknowledge and respect that people have different views on a wide range of issues," the government said in an official statement on the march.

"We note that apart from some obstructions to traffic, the march, though large, was generally peaceful and orderly," it said, but repeated its insistence that there are adequate safeguards built into the amendments to prevent politically motivated extraditions to mainland China.

Trumped-up charges feared

Citing its inability to extradite a Taiwanese man suspected of murdering his girlfriend owing to a lack of discretionary power covering jurisdictions not covered by formal extradition treaties, the government said the amendments were aimed at preventing Hong Kong from becoming a "bolt-hole" for criminals.

"None of these serious criminal offences [covered by the renditions bill] relate to the freedom of assembly, of the press, of speech, of academic freedom or publication," the statement said. "And no surrender for a political offence or if the purported charges are in fact on account of race, religion, nationality or political opinions."

But journalists and rights activists say they could just as easily be extradited on a trumped-up charge, should the ruling Chinese Communist Party decide it wanted to retaliate against someone in Hong Kong, whether living there or simply visiting.

The Hong Kong Journalists' Association (HKJA) has warned that journalists have already been targeted for political reasons in China, using "baseless allegations ... including possession of drugs, smuggling, bribery and fraud."

Under the planned amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, China would be able to request the extradition of an alleged suspect based on the standards of evidence that currently apply in its own courts, the HKJA said in a statement earlier this month.

"We urge the Legislative Council to scrutinise the Bill in a calm, reasonable and respectful manner to help ensure Hong Kong remains a safe city for residents and business," the government said.

"The Second Reading debate on the Bill will resume on June 12," it said, indicating that it will stick to its original intention of passing the amendments ahead of the summer recess.

Claudia Mo, who convenes the pan-democratic camp of lawmakers in LegCo, said chief executive Carrie Lam is pushing the bill through at Beijing's behest.

"Beijing has become increasingly impatient with Hong Kong since our umbrella movement five years ago," she said. "[The Chinese leadership] sees us as an unruly teenager who doesn't learn to be grateful and obedient."

"The idea is to - ultimately - disappear Hong Kong, or at least to change it into one of the numerous Chinese cities," Mo told RTHK on Sunday. "Like a little boat, Hong Kong is sinking fast, but we're not taking this lying down, we have to put up a fight," she said.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman said the U.S. is following developments in Hong Kong very closely, and that the proposed amendments were indicative of a "serious erosion" of the city's traditional rights and freedoms, as promised under the terms of the handover.

They would also affect Hong Kong's international standing as a free port and separate jurisdiction from mainland China, the spokesman said.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said he is also extremely concerned over the extradition plans. In a statement, he said. Rubio vowed to table the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Bill in Congress, which would require a review of Hong Kong's status as a separate trading jurisdiction.

Hong Kong witnessed its largest street protest in at least 15 years, as crowds massed against plans to allow extraditions to China, June 9, 2019.  (AFP Photo)

Reported by Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

June 6, 2019


Hong Kong's Lawyers March in Silence, Black Clothes Over Renditions to China

Thousands of lawyers clad in black took to the streets of Hong Kong Thursday in protest at plans to allow the rendition of alleged criminal suspects to mainland China.

The lawyers came out of the Court of Final Appeal in the city's central business district and marched in silence to government headquarters, with applause from onlookers as they went.



They were joined by prominent pro-democracy figures including Democratic Party founder Martin Lee, rights activist and barrister Albert Ho, and current Civic Party Legislative Council (LegCo) member Dennis Kwok.

Hong Kong lawyers protest proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, June 6, 2019.  (RFA Photo)

Hong Kong lawyers protest proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, June 6, 2019. (RFA Photo)

Ronny Wong, former head of the Hong Kong Bar Association, said the government had refused to listen to the opionions of the city's legal profession, and hit out at officials' claims that there were adequate human rights protections in the proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance currently before LegCo.

"It is completely unreasonable that they are demolishing the [legal] firewall [between Hong Kong and mainland China] with no justification, and against the interests of the Hong Kong people," Wong told reporters at the rally. "

March organizer Dennis Kwok said as many as 3,000 lawyers had taken part.

"The legal profession is coming out in the hope that the people of Hong Kong will listen to them, and oppose this amendment," Kwok said.

"Their position is very clear: they think this amendment will destroy the rule of law," he said. "I hope even more Hong Kong people will turn out at Victoria Park now that the legal profession has come out against it."

Widespread fear

The government's planned legal amendment—which the ruling Chinese Communist Party wants implemented "urgently"—has sparked widespread fear that the city will lose its status as a separate legal jurisdiction, and that rights activists and dissidents in the city could be targeted by Beijing for actions deemed illegal across the internal border.

Judges, lawyers, opposition politicians, rights activists, business groups, and journalists have all expressed vocal opposition to the plan, which will allow China to request the extradition of an alleged suspect from Hong Kong based on the standards of evidence that currently apply in its own courts.

The most likely jurisdiction to use the proposed provision is mainland China, which currently has no formal extradition treaty with Hong Kong, and Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam has tried to reassure people that legal safeguards will be used to safeguard the rights of suspects.

But Wong said the government's supposed safeguards are meaningless.

"How are the courts going to act as a check. They are utterly ineffectual," he said, adding that the government's attempted justification of the amendment was "false."

Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung said that while previous protests by Hong Kong lawyers were sparked by intervention by China's National People's Congress (NPC) in the city's political life, this one is the first to target the actions of the city's own government.

"This is mostly about the actions and ideas of the Hong Kong government," Yeung said. "The NPC hasn't even played a role in this."

'An outrage'

A protesting lawyer who gave only his surname Fung said he had joined the march to protest at the government's attempts to railroad the amendments through LegCo, where customary committee-level scrutiny of the bill has been canceled.

"The wording of the amendment, and the way they have handled this from the start, are an outrage," Fung said. "The outcome will be the death of the rule of law in Hong Kong and the city's future."

"Once we lose the rule of law in Hong Kong, we are finished," he said. "That is the one thing that gives Hong Kong its added value."

A participant surnamed Ho said he wanted to express his concern over the lack of power by the courts to stop a proposed extradition once it has been requested.

"The government isn't acting in good faith, nor is it respecting due process or listening to people's views," Ho said. "I think that the government is determined to get its proposal through, and any concessions made along the way have been made on recommendations from the business community."

The march comes as five pro-democracy LegCo members occupied the LegCo chamber on Thursday ahead of a larger march against the renditions law that is planned for Sunday.

Chu Hoi-dick, Jeremy Tam, Roy Kwong, Ted Hui, and Gary Fan said they will take it in turns to occupy the building over the weekend in a bid to raise public awareness of the protest.

Across the border in mainland China, activists said a WeChat social media group supporting the campaign against the extradition law had been shut down. Group member Li Na said the Chinese government is worried that such demonstrations could spread to China.

Reported by Lee Wang-yam for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Qiao Long and Lu Xi for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

March 31, 2019


Thousands in Hong Kong Protest Planned 'Renditions' to China

Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong at the weekend in protest at proposed changes to the city's extradition laws that could see people sent to mainland China to face prosecution, even in the absence of an extradition agreement, on a case-by-case basis.

An estimated 12,000 people turned out to march to government headquarters on Sunday, according to march organizers, as rights groups called on the Hong Kong government to scrap the proposals.



Marchers carried placards that read "No to extradition to mainland China," and shouted "There is no good reason to amend the extradition law!" and "Oppose Hong Kong turning into mainland China and extradition to black jails!"

Activists took to the streets of Hong Kong at the weekend in protest at proposed changes to the city's extradition laws that could see people sent to mainland China to face prosecution, March 31, 2019.  (RFA Photo)

Activists took to the streets of Hong Kong at the weekend in protest at proposed changes to the city's extradition laws that could see people sent to mainland China to face prosecution, March 31, 2019. (RFA Photo)

Jimmy Sham of march organizers the Civil Human Rights Front called on the government to drop the amendment, which is due to be tabled in the city's Legislative Council (LegCo) on Wednesday.

"We can see that the government can only force this legislation through LegCo," Sham said. "They have also muddied the waters by taking commercial crimes off the table, and deflecting public anger onto the business community."

Critics say China -- the most likely jurisdiction to use the proposed system -- lacks any judicial independence, paving the way for human rights abuses involving suspects beyond China's borders.

The World Justice Project in 2017/18 ranked China’s justice system 75th out of 113 countries, while Hong Kong came 16th.

Canadian arrests cited

A student social worker surnamed Chow who attended the march said that there was no way to guarantee the rights of suspects rendered to mainland China under the proposals.

"The [government's] explanation is not convincing, because even if some commercial and political crimes are ruled out ... because it fails to ensure a fair trial once someone ... is sent to mainland China," Chow said.

Currently, suspects must be wanted for a crime that is an offense both in Hong Kong and another jurisdiction with which it has an extradition treaty, and requests are limited to a list of 46 serious crimes including murder, assault and sex offenses.

But under the proposed changes, citizens of the democratic island of Taiwan and other countries traveling through Hong Kong could also be placed in jeopardy, should Beijing decide that it wanted to accuse them of a crime.

Democratic politicians have pointed to the arrests of several Canadian nationals on Chinese territory since the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on Dec. 1, 2018, and to the 2015 cross-border detentions of five booksellers -- including a Swedish and a U.K. national -- wanted for selling books banned in mainland China to customers there, despite the fact that their actions were entirely legal in Hong Kong.

One of the five booksellers, Lam Wing-kei, told RFA that he plans to leave Hong Kong if the amendments make it into law.

"There are charges against me in mainland China, which are 'illegally selling books,' that haven't been dropped," said Lam, who departed from the confessional script agreed with Chinese police prior to his conditional release, and held a press conference about his ordeal on arriving back in Hong Kong.

"It's very clear to me that if this law passes, then there is a basis on which to extradite me," he said. "I don't trust the Hong Kong government to guarantee my personal safety, nor that of any other Hong Kong resident, in the event that this law passes."

Arbitrary detention, torture, and ill-treatment

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam on Monday dismissed concerns that the new legislation being tabled in the city's Legislative Council on Wednesday will enable Beijing to pick and choose suspects, saying that the bill will include "a range of human rights and procedural safeguards in the system."

The government has already dropped a slew of white collar crimes from the legislation following concerns from the business sector that retaliatory charges could be brought as strong-arm tactics in business disputes.

Hong Kong officials say that only high-level Chinese authorities, such as the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice, would be able to make an extradition request to Hong Kong.

But rights groups warned on Monday that the proposed amendments will effectively result in the removal of safeguards.

"The guarantees are actually unlikely to provide real protection," a March 31 letter posted to Twitter by London-based rights group Amnesty International and co-signed by the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor said.

HRW China director Sophie Richardson said the proposed changes should be scrapped.

"The proposed changes to Hong Kong’s extradition laws would permit transfers to mainland China, putting Hong Kong people at risk of torture and unfair trials," Richardson said in a statement on the group's website. "The amendments would tarnish Hong Kong’s reputation for the rule of law, and should be scrapped."

China's justice system has a record of arbitrary detention, torture, and other ill-treatment, of serious violations of fair trial rights, and of various systems of incommunicado detention without trial, HRW said.

"These amendments would heighten the risk for human rights activists and others critical of China being extradited to the mainland for trial on fabricated charges," Richardson said. "This is a devastating blow to the freedoms promised Hong Kong upon its handover to Chinese sovereignty in 1997."

Reported by Lau Siu-fung for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Feb 18, 2019


Many in Hong Kong Fear Greater Integration with Mainland China

The ruling Chinese Communist Party is moving ahead with greater integration between the former colonial cities of Hong Kong and Macau and the rest of China, amid fears that ever-closer integration -- including streamlined extradition procedures -- could further erode traditional freedoms and human rights protections.

China's cabinet, the State Council, published a lengthy blueprint on Monday setting out its plans to integrate 11 major cities in the Pearl River Delta region, including Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai.


A mainland Chinese couple pose for photographs at a viewing deck before the skyline of Hong Kong island across the harbour, Feb. 16, 2019.   (AFP Photo)

A mainland Chinese couple pose for photographs at a viewing deck before the skyline of Hong Kong island across the harbour, Feb. 16, 2019. (AFP Photo)


Strategically, the plan positions Hong Kong as a financial center that will raise funds for China's "Belt and Road" infrastructure plan, drawing on the economic strength of the mainland Chinese cities.

The plan for 2022-2035 will "support Hong Kong and Macau to integrate into China's overall development," according to a copy published on the State Council website.

"[It will] enable compatriots from Hong Kong and Macau to share the historic responsibility of national rejuvenation ... and the prosperity of the motherland," it sid.

It said the Pearl River Delta region -- with an economy valued at some 10 trillion yuan in 2017 – would play an important role in the "Belt and Road" project linking China to crucial strategic resources and markets.

"Hong Kong, Macau and the nine cities of the Pearl River Delta have the same cultural homogeneity, close kinship, similar folk customs and complementary advantages," according to the plan, which will seek to build a large-scale and "world-class" conurbation there.

"Further close exchanges and cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macau will provide more opportunities for economic and social development ... and maintain long-term prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macau," it said.

Beijing will be pursuing a coordinated development strategy that will boost infrastructure links, green development and innovation in the region, the plan said.

"By 2022, ... cooperation between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau will be more extensive ... and the level of interconnection and interoperability will be further enhanced," it said, adding that "cultural exchange activities" would have become more frequent.

However, many in Hong Kong fear too much integration with mainland China.

Loss of status feared

Civic Party leader and lawmaker Alvin Yeung said closer integration could lose Hong Kong its status as a free port and separate trade jurisdiction in the eyes of the international community.

Yeung said the plan's insistence on cutting-edge technology as part of the region's economic integration could heighten such concerns in the eyes of members of the U.S. Congress.

"I am very worried about that, but also about mainland Chinese companies using Hong Kong to turn themselves into Hong Kong companies, and using their Hong Kong-registered status to acquire various technologies, giving rise to international concern," he said.

"This would harm Hong Kong's interests in the long term."

Meanwhile, Ivan Choy, a senior politics lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said that greater economic ties were not the only likely outcome of the plan.

"It could mean that there is greater assimilation ... and all I can say is that I hope that Hong Kong's core values would be respected, rather than distorted," Choy said.

"I hope that they won't force us to accommodate them," he said.

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam welcomed the plan, however.

"The development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area is a national strategy personally devised, personally planned and personally driven by President Xi Jinping," the city's government said in a statement on Monday. "It is a key development strategy in the country's reform and opening up in the new era."

"The Hong Kong SAR Government will fully seize the opportunities brought about by the development of the Greater Bay Area," it said.

And Lam's second-in-command Matthew Cheung said China's promises of autonomy and a separate legal jurisdiction for Hong Kong following the 1997 handover would be kept, under the "one country, two systems" framework, however.

"[Regional] development won't weaken one country, two systems ... It is obvious to anyone that Hong Kong is the most open city in the country, and it has the rule of law," Cheung said.

Rendition to mainland

However, the city's government is currently mulling plans to allow the executive rendition of criminal suspects to China at Beijing's request.

Pro-democracy group Demosisto said the changes were an attempt to make it easier for China to "entrap" Hong Kong citizens who raised their voices in dissent against Beijing's policies.

"The Hong Kong government’s proposition to change a current law is an attempt to prepare to entrap oppositional voices for China, and is a step towards judicial integration and eroding Hong Kong’s legal system, allowing Hong Kong citizens to be subjected to an autocratic Court," the group said in a Feb. 17 statement on its Facebook page.

It said citizens of Taiwan and other countries could also be placed in jeopardy by the proposed changes, should they travel through Hong Kong, should Beijing decide that it wanted to accuse them of a crime.

"Hong Kong should not hand over suspects to places that do not meet the standards of international human rights law, let alone to a legal system that is completely different from our own," the statement said, pointing to the arrests of several Canadian nationals on Chinese territory since the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on Dec. 1, 2018.

It also cited the cross-border detentions of five booksellers -- including a Swedish and a U.K. national -- wanted for selling books banned in mainland China to customers there, despite the fact that their actions were entirely legal in Hong Kong.

Currently, suspects must be wanted for a crime that is an offense in both jurisdictions, and to a list of 46 serious crimes including murder, assault and sex offenses.

"Permitting a major criminal to stay in Hong Kong not only marks a violation of justice but also poses risk to public safety here," the city's Security Bureau said in recent statement, proposing that suspects could be arrested on the basis of a certificate issued by the city's chief executive instead. Judicial challenges would be available under the new system, but it was unclear whether there would be time for a suspect to initiate them.

But critics say China -- the most likely jurisdiction to use the system -- lacks any judicial independence, paving the way for human rights abuses, should Hong Kong change the rules on extradition.

The World Justice Project in 2017/18 ranked China’s justice system 75th out of 113 countries, while Hong Kong came 16th.

Reported by Wong Lok-to for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Lu Xi for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

A Brief Timeline of Hong Kong’s History


Map of Hong Kong's protest location

Map of Hong Kong's protest location   (RFA Graphic)