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Hong Kong protests: Council postpones dispute over extradition law



Thousands of young demonstrators demonstrating on a multi-lane road outside the Legislative Council broke into Cantonese, the Hong Kong-spoken Chinese dialect, in chants of "Chit Wui!" The draft bill is to be withdrawn.

As the crowd of demonstrators swelled, the police tried to push them back with water cannons and pepper spray. Some umbrellas from convenience stores unfolded in the crowd. Others confiscated road signs and threw them clattering to the ground.

A debate on the bill was scheduled for 11.00 am, but was delayed. Local media reported that the delay was due to the legislature not being able to enter the building as a result of the protests.

The government later announced that all entrances to its central offices had been closed for roadblocks and called on employees who were not yet in the buildings to stay away.

Some protesters in the crowd said in interviews that they had little hope of forcing the government to withdraw the extradition law. Others, like Grace Tsang, were more optimistic.

Tsang, 25, said she had arrived hoping to draw international attention to the law and hoped that a global condemnation could force the government to move away from presenting the law for a second reading in the local Legislators withdraw.

Hong Kong is a civilized city, but they do not listen to the citizens, "said Ms. Tsang, who was wearing sunglasses and a surgical mask for pepper spray protection, over the authorities. "It's pretty ridiculous."

"We need all the people in the world to support us, because sometimes we are pretty hopeless," she added.

The city police said some demonstrators had surrounded police and private cars in a tunnel and "threatened the lives of the people surrounded."

"This behavior went beyond the scope of a peaceful gathering," the statement says , "We urge those who surround the vehicles to leave as soon as possible, otherwise we will use appropriate force."

Thousands of demonstrators pulled heavy metal barriers and flooded streets Hong Kong lawmakers blocked access to the building on Wednesday morning, in the recent demonstration against a controversial bill that would allow deliveries to mainland China.

The demonstrators, many of them young people in black T-shirts and surgical masks, set the barriers on a wide street in front of the Legislative Council as the sound of the metal scratching the asphalt crashed through a canyon of skyscrapers. Hundreds of full-face riot police and truncheons were watching.

The protest recalled the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement five years ago, which shut down several neighborhoods – including the streets that blockaded demonstrators on Wednesday – but ultimately won no concessions from the government.

One of the demonstrators, Daniel Yeung, 21, stood in the shadow of the parliament building on a cement block in the middle of the street wearing black clothes, a white surgical mask, and gardening gloves. The street, usually a busy thoroughfare, was now a sea of ​​black shirts. A city bus stopped at the edge of the crowd.

Mr. Yeung said he came to protest against the extradition law and the policy he described as "arbitrary" by Carrie Lam, chief executive officer of Hong Kong, supported by Beijing, and president Xi Jinping of China. If the law is passed, he fears what the authorities might do. "They'll think you're a suspect and send you back to China."

Many of the demonstrators gathered on Tuesday evening and stayed overnight.

Residents planned protests, strikes and a slowdown in transportation for Wednesday, as legislators were to debate the controversial bill aimed at bringing people to mainland China for trial.

The demonstrations should be smaller than the March on Sunday, when up to one million people or one-seventh of the population of the territory marched through the city in a mostly peaceful protest.

On Tuesday afternoon, working groups, companies and student organizations throughout the city had announced plans to demonstrate their rejection of the extradition law. Small businesses, including restaurants and bookstores, said they would close their doors; High school students and up to 4,000 of their teachers planned a strike; and a bus workers union called on members to drive well below the speed limit.

In an online petition, 50,000 people were asked to protest to the Legislative Council, the legislator of the city, as he prepared for his second debate on the proposed law. On Monday, the city council announced that it was restricting access to a typical demonstration area.

Legislators are expected to vote on the bill at the end of next week, Hong Kong's legislator said despite the weekend's mass protests.

The plan, announced Tuesday by Legislative Council Chairman Andrew Leung, further fueled tensions in Hong Kong after one of the biggest protests in the recent history of semi-autonomous Chinese territory took place on Sunday.

The city police announced Public violence does not tolerate violence. The South China Morning Post reported that thousands of other officers had been mobilized.

Mr. Leung said that the bill could be put to the vote on 20 June after about 60 hours of debate. He added, "the case is urgent and must be dealt with as soon as possible." The measure is likely to be passed in the local legislature, where pro The legislature of Beijing holds 43 out of 70 seats.

The opposition legislator had expected the vote to take place towards the end of the month on the basis of a regular session. The Legislative Leader's decision to hold further sessions in the coming days to bring the vote to a vote soon met with criticism. Carrie Lam, executive director of Hong Kong, said on Monday that the bill would "be enforced for Hong Kong with a good conscience and conviction".

The bill would allow Hong Kong to arrest and convict people in countries and territories with which there are no formal extradition treaties, including Taiwan and mainland China.

Mike Ives, Tiffany May, Katherine Li, and Daniel Victor contributed to the coverage.


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