Feature

Hong Kong's Pro-Democracy Movement

Hong Kong Withdraws Extradition Bill, Other Protest Demands Unanswered

2019/09/04 , News
Daphne K. Lee
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG Images
Daphne K. Lee
Daphne K. Lee is a journalist based in Taipei and an editor for The News Lens International. She's a perpetual traveler who finds story ideas while roaming the planet.

Hong Kong executive leader Carrie Lam announces a formal withdrawal of the controversial extradition bill today after 13 weeks of citywide pro-democracy protests.

In a televised announcement, Lam promised to completely remove the extradition bill and to initiate dialogue with communities.

Although the bill is withdrawn, an investigative committee will not be set up, Lam suggested. She said the government still believes the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) is the best way to handle complaints against police officers.

Lam also expressed hopes for rebuilding societal order but again condemned protester violence.

"Ongoing violence is shaking the foundation of Hong Kong's rule of law," Lam said. "Our utmost priority now is to suppress violence, safeguard the rule of law, and restore order and safety in society. The government will strictly enforce the law against all illegal and violent acts."

South China Morning Post said that Lam had met with pro-Beijing lawmakers today at 4 p.m. to inform them of the withdrawal decision before making a public announcement.

The decision yields to one of the five demands of the protesters, an attempt to cool off the escalated protests. The Hang Seng Index, Hong Kong's stock-market index, soared by nearly 4 percent after media reports of the announcement.

But the removal of the bill might not satisfy the pro-democracy protesters as the movement has largely shifted its focus over the past three months. Protesters have reiterated their anger against police brutality demands for universal suffrage and Lam's resignation. These demands were unanswered by Lam's announcement.

According to the Hong Kong Police, 1,117 protesters have been arrested as of September 2 in the past three months. At least 70 of them have been charged with rioting, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

"This is not going to calm the protesters, but it is a good way for the government to persuade business sectors and gain their support," said Johnson Yeung, a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist.

Lam's decision to withdraw the bill came a day after Reuters reported on a leaked audio recording of Lam during a closed-door meeting with a group of businesspeople in Hong Kong.

"If I have a choice, the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology," Lam said, according to the recording.

Joshua Wong, secretary-general of pro-democracy party Demosistō, who has recently been arrested and released on bail, slammed Lam's response on Twitter.

"Too little and too late now — 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.

Wong is now in Taiwan meeting with officials to urge for the Taiwanese government to set up measures for asylum-seekers from Hong Kong.

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TNL Editor: Lea Yang (@thenewslensintl)

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Hong Kong's Pro-Democracy Movement:

At the end of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, Hongkongers promised they will be back. In June 2019, Hong Kong mobilized one-third of the population to protest against the government's extradition bill. The News Lens is covering the on-going movement and rallies in collaboration with our Hong Kong-based team.

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