Update: June 15, 7:50 EDT
In a press conference held in response to Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s decision to postpone the extradition bill, pan-democratic group Civil Human Rights Front condemned Lam for refusing to completely withdraw the bill and apologize for the police use of force in dispersing protesters, which led to more than 80 people sustaining injuries.
The group, which organized last week’s march that brought more than one million Hong Kongers to the streets to oppose the bill, said they would continue to call for the bill’s full withdrawal and urged all citizens to join another march it has planned for tomorrow.
It also condemned the Hong Kong government’s labeling of protesters as “rioters” and called for the release of all 11 protesters who have been arrested.
It would also continue calling for the “three suspensions”: boycotting classes, not going to work, and shutting down businesses, until the bill is withdrawn.
Update: June 15, 4:26 a.m. EDT
Hong Kong chief executive has suspended the proposed extradition law indefinitely.
In a press conference on June 15, Carrie Lam told reporters that the decision was made with consideration of the public sentiment against the bill.
Lam said that it was a necessary measure to restore order in the former British colony as a “responsible government.”
“We have to maintain law and order on the one hand and evaluate the situation for the greatest interest of Hong Kong including restoring calmness in society as soon as possible and avoiding any more injuries to law enforcement officers and citizens,” Lam said during the conference.
“After repeated internal deliberations over the last two days I now announce that the government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise and restart our communication with all sectors of society,” Lam continued, adding that they will halt the bill and have no intention to set a deadline to bring it back.
The proposed bill had seen a week-long stand-off between Hong Kong masses and the government, with nearly 1.03 million people taking to the streets to oppose the bill, with some pro-Beijing lawmakers also advising her to back down so as to avoid undermining their chances in the 2020 election.
At least 81 people, including several reporters, were injured as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd at the Legislative Council in protest of the bill. In light of the public protests, the planned debates were cancelled for three days in a row.
The Civil Human Rights Front, a pro-democracy group, had scheduled for a mass protest on Sunday to stop the extradition law. The group had not indicated that it will call off the original plan.
“The uncertain suspension of passing the law was made possible only by the blood shed by Hong Kong protesters,” the group said in a latest statement with the capitalized words: “We want withdrawal only.” They urged people from different political circles to stand together on the issue and stop the extradition bill.
Update: June 14, 11:58 p.m. EDT
Local media report that Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam will meet with pro-Beijing legislators on June 15 noon to possibly discuss postponing the controversial extradition bill.
Earlier, an insider close to the Hong Kong government told The Epoch Times that Lam was likely to make a decision to suspend the bill on Saturday.
The Hong Kong leader is likely to hold a press conference after announcing the government’s latest decision over the controversial bill to pro-Beijing lawmakers, according to the Hong Kong news broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK).
This follows multiple officials expressing their support to delay the bill.
Pro-Beijing legislator Michael Tien said that the use of force by police on June 12 to disperse protesters who opposed the bill could bring unfavorable consequences to his party in the upcoming elections in 2020.
“I don’t understand why [Lam] is still so adamant about it … How do we govern if the pro-establishment camp loses our majority?” Tien told reporters at the Legislative Council on June 14, the Hong Kong Free Press reported.
Update: June 14, 11:25 p.m. EDT
The NGO German Chamber of Commerce has expressed strong concerns over the extradition bill over its far-reaching implications for international business confidence in the city.
The organization said in a statement that it “fully respects and supports” the right of the Hong Kong civilians to exercise their right of assembly in protestof the bill, and condemned the “violence and escalatory behaviour” that occurred under the government’s watch.
“In order to achieve progress on the subject matter of the controversial Extradition Bill, all sides need to exercise restraint and engage in a constructive dialogue,” the statement read.
“The GCC Board of Directors believes that, going forward, the Government of Hong Kong should invite legal, business and other bodies to engage in a comprehensive and in-depth consultation process on the proposed Extradition Bill, to ensure that due consideration is given to all interest groups, that the legislation is consistent with Hong Kong’s robust legal system and rule of law standards, and that the long-term interests and reputation of Hong Kong are protected,” they said.
Update: June 14, 12:17 p.m. EDT
Future Extradition Bill Debates Are Still Pending, Says Hong Kong Legislature
After originally canceling two planned legislative debates on the contentious extradition bill, the Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo) has since changed their status to “to be decided,” according to a June 14 LegCo press release.
After scores of protesters showed up in front of the LegCo building on the first day of scheduled debates on June 12—and continued to occupy the grounds, the pro-Beijing head of LegCo Andrew Leung had decided to cancel originally slated meetings on June 12, 13, and 14.
Despite record turnout of protesters, Leung had announced a schedule for debates on every weekday until June 20, essentially fast-tracking the legislative process. He had promised to bring the bill to a vote on June 20. It is unclear whether he still intends to go by that schedule.
For June 17 and 18 next week, the LegCo initially announced in an earlier press release that they were also canceled. But around 9 p.m. local time, the status was changed to pending.
As per the latest schedule, a LegCo meeting on the issue is set to take place on Wednesday, June 19, at 11 a.m. local time in Hong Kong, followed by a continuation of the meeting on Thursday, June 20, at 9 a.m.
Update: June 14, 6:15 a.m. EDT
The police’s use of force against protesters in Hong Kong has come under fire from the organizer of one of the rallies.
Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the organizer of the June 9 march in Hong Kong, has issued a statement on its Facebook page questioning the police’s use of force against protesters on June 12.
It said the type of rubber bullets used by the police were seemingly intended to cause injury rather than dispersing protesters. It was the first time since the city was handed over to China in 1997 that the police had fired rubber bullets at protesters.
CHRF also asked why police had apparently targeted protesters’ heads rather than their lower bodies, in contradiction to instructions given to police ahead of the protests. It added that this violated protocols with regard to the use of firearms.
CHRF claimed that police fired tear gas at protesters outside Hong Kong’s Civic Tower on June 12, despite a notice from police that they would not oppose protesters’ plans. CHRF say that none of the protesters at the time tried to charge at the police.
CHRF is calling for an independent committee to be set up to investigate the police’s actions on June 12.
Meanwhile, Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong said that doctors working at government-run hospitals had received a notice from the Hong Kong government requiring them to report how many days off they have had, according to RTHK.
Kwong said he was told that doctors are afraid that the notice will become evidence for the Hong Kong government to punish doctors who have participated in any activities supporting the protest.
Additionally, Kwong said that he had learned that some people had chosen not to go to the hospital after they inhaled tear gas.
The lawmaker said their fear might stem from police having secretly sent out plain-clothed officers to hospitals, something Kwong said violated patients’ privacy.
Pierre Chan, a lawmaker who represents the medical community and four doctors’ groups, issued a petition calling on the police not to arrest protesters inside hospitals, according to RTHK.
Hong Kong Police Commissioner Stephen Lo admitted that some arrests in connection to the June 12 protest were made at hospitals.
The petition stated that such police actions might discourage injured people from being treated at hospitals.
Update: June 14, 4:05 a.m. EDT
27 Former HK Officials Call On Leader Carrie Lam to Withdraw Extradition Bill
The pressure is mounting for Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to scrap the controversial extradition bill, also known as the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation Bill 2019.
In a joint statement, 27 former Hong Kong officials issued an “urgent appeal” to Lam to withdraw the bill, expressing how they were saddened by the current Hong Kong government’s insistence on “ramming” the law through the Legislative Council (LegCo), according to Hong Kong media RTHK.
Some of the better-known officials who signed the statement were Peter Lai, Secretary for Security from 1995 to 1998; Andrew Wong Wang-fat, president of LegCo from 1995 to 1997; and Anson Chan, Chief Secretary from 1997 to 2001.
Chan took part in the million-strong protest march on June 9, drawing record crowds to the streets of Hong Kong.
Speaking to reporters during the protest, Chan said that the bill would not only affect basic rights and freedom in Hong Kong, but “also affect business confidence in Hong Kong, especially how it would be a blow to Hong Kong’s image as a top financial center.”
“A deeply divided society, serious concerns of the international community—are these the sacrifices to be made to satisfy the will of the Chief Executive? What great public interest is supposed to be served by the hurried passage of this bill? Where will this escalation of police force to suppress protests lead Hong Kong?” Chan said in a statement.
The statement questioned how Lam could remain “unmoved” following the scenes of young people getting injured during altercations with the police on June 12 when tens of thousands protested outside government buildings in Admiralty.
“This is our future generations to be cherished. How can anyone with a heart not be pained to see the treatment they received?” the statement added.
It also called on Lam to “yield to the public opinion” and scrap the bill.
Update: June 14, 2:22 a.m. EDT
Planned ‘Three Suspensions Rally’ on June 17 Gaining Moment After Federation of Trade Unions Voices Support
The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), an independent union representing over 190,000 members in sectors such as construction, retail, education, social welfare, and property management, has announced that it will support a planned rally organized by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) for next Monday, June 17.
The announcement was made during a press conference on June 14 around 11 a.m. local time.
Yesterday, CHRF announced that it planned to hold a “three suspensions” rally, encouraging people to stop work, stop classes, and stop the markets on June 17. Additionally, it also planned to hold a large-scale march on the coming Sunday, June 16.
According to Hong Kong public radio broadcaster RTHK, HKCTU called on both employers and employees to join the rally.
It stated that workers could tell their employees that they are going to “fulfil their duties as citizens of this society” as a reason for joining the rally.
The federation called on employers to grant time off to their workers without penalizing them for their absence.
“This time, it’s a historical situation between the Hong Kong society that align the employers and employees to act together to fight against this extradition law. So I strongly appeal to all the employers, do not give any hard time or disadvantages to any employees who participate in this,” urged Carol Ng, chairman of HKCTU, according to RTHK.
Ng added that it was time for grown-ups to support the many youngsters who have already been taking to the streets en masse in the protest of the government’s extradition bill.
Update: June 13, 11:09 p.m. EDT
Hong Kong Students on Their Knees Urging for ‘Three Suspensions’
Hong Kong students have taken a different approach to garner more public support for the protest against the proposed extradition bill.
On June 14, Demosisto, a pro-democracy political party, posted a video on its Facebook page showing 7 of its members—all students—on their knees at Mei Foo MRT Station with one speaking into a loudspeaker.
Demosisto was established in 2016, and currently its secretary general is Joshua Wong, the well-known Hong Kong student activist who took part in the Umbrella Movement in 2014.
In 2014, protesters called for universal suffrage camped out on the streets of Hong Kong’s main business district in Central for about 3 months. The movement ended without protesters’ demands being met, while several of its main organizers have since been jailed, including Wong.
The students urged for public support of “three suspensions,” to stop work, stop classes, and stop the markets.
In the video, it could be seen that the students eventually left after they were approached by MRT officials and police officers.
Many businesses and groups in Hong Kong have already voluntarily shutdown in support of the protest.
Photos of the Mei Foo station protest have since been shared on Twitter.
The action of the seven students could be a sign that student protesters might take stronger actions in the days to come, after Hong Kong media reported that police officers arrest two students who took part in the June 12 protest from their school dormitory at the University of Hong Kong in the evening on June 13.
According to RTHK, Assistant Professor YL Fung, who is also the head of the dormitory, confirmed the arrest and said that the two students could soon post bail.
Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung, who arrived at university in the evening on June 13 after learning about the arrest, said the police officers did not search the school before arresting the two students, according to RTHK.
Meanwhile, Civil Human Rights Front, the organizer of the June 9 march, posted on its Facebook page a gathering for “Hong Kong mothers” who support the anti-extradition protests. The gathering, which is taking issue with Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s statement of being a firm mother for Hong Kong’s “spoilt” youth, will be held at either Chater Garden or Statue Square at 7 p.m. local time in Hong Kong on Friday, June 14.
The event called for both mothers and fathers who support the protests to show Hong Kong’s youngsters that they are not alone in their call for Lam to scrap the extradition bill.
Update: June 13, 6:30 p.m. EDT
11 Hong Kong Protesters Arrested for ‘Riot Related Offenses’
Hong Kong police chief Stephen Lo said police have arrested 11 protesters so far after a series of clashes between the two sides on June 12.
In a press conference on June 13, Lo called the demonstration outside the city’s legislature a “riot.” He said the protest was peaceful until 3 p.m. local time, when bricks, metal poles, and wood were thrown at police, forcing them to drive protesters away with rubber bullets and tear gas, Hong Kong media RTHK reported.
Over 150 rounds of tear gas, 20 bean bags, and multiple rubber bullets were fired by the police in a “restrained and tolerant” manner, said Lo. Some rubber bullets hit protesters on the head, he added.
Joseph Wong, a former secretary of Hong Kong’s civil service, disputed Lo’s account of the protester’s actions, saying the police shot at protesters like they were “hunting prey,” according to RTHK.
“I see some of the protesters digging up bricks on the ground, but I have not seen them being used [as weapons]. I see those iron rods on display, I’ve not seen them being used either,” Wong told the outlet.
“We should keep a balance and not just blame everything on the protesters and label them as rioters,” Wong said.
The city’s hospital authority said a total of 81 people were injured in the protests.
Journalists who attended the Wednesday press conference wore high visibility vests and helmet as a sign of protest over the police’s rough treatment of reporters. The Hong Kong Journalists Association earlier condemned police for “totally ignoring the safety of journalists and severely trampling on their right to reporting.”
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council on June 13 issued a travel alert advising its nationals to be mindful of personal safety when traveling to Hong Kong in case of further protests.
Update: June 13, 7:50 a.m EDT
Hong Kong Legislative Council Delays Debate on Extradition Bill For Third Day
Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) has just canceled its full council meeting for Friday, June 14.
The cancellation was announced by Andrew Leung, the pro-Beijing head of LegCo, in a council press release.
The announcement stated, “the Council meeting of June 12, 2019, will not be held tomorrow (June 14).” It added that Leung will make another announcement after he decides the time of a replacement meeting.
Update: June 13, 6:50 a.m EDT
Hong Kong Protest Organizer Planning Another Protest
The organizer of the June 9 protest that drew over a million people to the streets in Hong Kong is planning to hold another march on Sunday, June 16.
The Civil Human Rights Front announced their intentions in a Facebook post on June 13.
The application also includes holding a rally for what they’re called the “three suspensions,” encouraging people to stop work, stop classes, and stop the markets next Monday, June 17.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Bar Association (HKBA), a professional organization of barristers, became the latest in the special administrative region to voice condemnation against the use of force by the local police against protesters on June 12.
In a statement on its website, HKBA wrote that it had “grave concern” over how the police “appeared to have acted in disregard of the safety and well-being of protesters and frontline journalists covering the protest.”
These police actions include the “deployment of wholly unnecessary force against largely unarmed protesters who did not appear to pose any immediate threat to the police or the public at large.”
The statement added that the police may have “overstepped its lawful powers in maintaining public order.”
HKBA also called on the Hong Kong government to “engage in dialogue with the community and reconsider its stance” toward the extradition bill.
Yesterday, the Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) issued a statement condemning the police for “totally ignoring the safety of journalists and severely trampling on their right to reporting,“ according to Hong Kong Free Press.
Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam, writing on his Facebook page, stated that he has demanded an emergency question-and-answer legislative session with the Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu.
Tam stated that one of the questions he wanted to ask was who authorized the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters on June 12.
Update: June 13, 4:30 a.m EDT
Public Outrage Against Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam Growing by the Minute
Calls for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to delay a legislative council debate on the controversial extradition bill intensified on June 13 when 66 current and former directors of Hong Kong’s social service agencies submitted a joint statement calling for Lam to begin public consultation over the matter, according to a press release by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service, a federation of non-governmental agencies.
“The current situation is dire. Everyone who loves Hong Kong and cherishes our next generation is worried,” the statement read. “As a result, we are making a call, that is we are hoping that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to make a switch decision, which is postponing the [legislative] process on the extradition bill, and initiative in-depth public consultation.”
Meanwhile, Joseph Wong, former secretary of Hong Kong’s Civil Service, denounced local police for opening fire on protestors during a confrontation on June 12 when some protesters tried to cross the police line close to the entrance of the legislative council. Wong equated the police response to that of “hunting prey” in an interview with Hong Kong public radio broadcaster RTHK.
“I see policemen aiming at protesters and firing [rubber] bullets, and I saw young people being hit on the head,” Wong said. “We should keep a balance and not just blame everything on the protesters and label them as ‘rioters.’”
Police and civilians were injured in the altercation.
Earlier, Lam had called the protests “organized riots.”
Wong said, “This has never happened before in Hong Kong. It is very sad for Hong Kong to have a chief executive in Carrie Lam.”
Overnight after most of the crowd had dispersed, some students were seen taking up the civic duty of cleaning the streets where items had been left following the chaos just hours earlier.
Hong Kong singer Denise Ho shared a video on Twitter, saying how proud she was that Hong Kong people were volunteering to pick up trash at 2 a.m.
The cleaning continued into the morning on June 13.
RTHK reported that 21-year-old university student Cherry Chen, who took part in the protest on June 12, and her friends were cleaning outside of the Hong Kong government headquarters on June 13.
“I am just trying to fulfill my civic responsibility,” Chan said. “We have to clean up all the rubbish and rebuild the area and not increase the burden on workers.”
Update: June 13, 3:25 a.m EDT
Two Protesters Arrested on “Rioting” Charges
According to an exclusive report from South China Morning Post, there have now been two arrests confirmed from the June 12 protests for rioting.
Police had arrested 19 protesters in the early hours of the morning on June 10 following the June 9 march.
The individuals were arrested at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kowloon where they had presented themselves to medical staff for injuries sustained during the clash with police.
News of the arrests came after Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai Chung called the altercations between protesters and police on Wednesday afternoon a “riot.”
Update: June 13, 12:33 a.m EDT
Hong Kong Legislative Council Delays Debate on Extradition Bill For Second Day
Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) has just canceled its full council meeting for Thursday, June 13, after protesters gathered for a second day around the LegCo building in Admiralty to protest the government’s extradition bill.
Hong Kong media reported that a few thousand people had gathered on roads near the LegCo building in anticipation of the legislative session.
The cancellation was announced by Andrew Leung, the pro-Beijing head of LegCo, in a council press release.
The announcement stated, “the Council meeting of June 12, 2019, will not be held today (June 13).” It added that Leung will make another announcement after he decides the time of a replacement meeting.
Some protesters at Tamar Park, which is located next to the council building, packed up and left upon hearing that the debate was postponed.
Prior to the LegCo’s cancellation announcement, several lawmakers of the pan-democracy camp held a press conference condemning how Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam had called the protests “organized riots,” according to Hong Kong radio broadcaster 881903.com.
Hu Chi-wai, the current chairman of the Democratic Party, said Lam’s remarks reminded him of what happened in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1989.
Leung Yiu-chung, a member of the pro-democracy Neighborhood and Worker’s Service Center and part of the pan-democracy camp, spoke of an incidence during the June 12 protests, when unnamed police officers snatched saline water away from the hands of EMT personnel, preventing the medical staff from providing care to protestors. Leung Yiu-chung called such police action “inhumane.”
One day earlier, tens of thousands of people had joined another peaceful mass protest outside the council building, hoping to make a final plea with lawmakers to drop the bill before its second reading in the council, which is controlled by a pro-Beijing majority.
A bout of violence broke out hours into the protest around 3 p.m. local time, when local police began using pepper spray to stop protestors charging across police lines outside the LegCo building. Some protesters were also throwing plastic bottles at police.
According to onsite reporters from the Hong Kong bureau of The Epoch Times, Lam Cheuk-ting, a Democratic Party politician who was at the scene, was hit by police with pepper spray.
Police then fired rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators.
Around 4:20 p.m. local time, Hong Kong Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai Chung confirmed that the police had used tear gas, rubber bullets, and bean bags in an attempt to clear protesters around Admiralty where the government buildings are located, according to Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP).
Chung told a press conference, “We had no choice but to use weapons to stop these protesters from barging at our defence lines.”
The number of people injured, including police officers, on June 12 increased from 72 to 79, according to Hong Kong’s public radio broadcaster RTHK. Their ages range from 15 to 66.
Currently, two of the injured are in critical condition at the Queen Mary Hospital. Another 64 have been discharged from various hospitals.
Update: 7:03 p.m. EDT
Electors Who Voted in Chief Executive Carrie Lam Call for Her to Step Down
Over 200 members from Hong Kong’s Election Committee have called on the Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down hours after she made a televised appearance vowing to press ahead with the controversial extradition bill.
According to Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao, members of the committee that elected Lam to the city’s top leadership position in 2017 expressed disappointment that she ignored public opinion, as over 1 million protesters—about 1 in every 7 Hong Kongers—had taken to the streets to oppose the bill on the weekend.
The 208 committee members who signed their names to the statement represent 17 percent of the near-1200-member committee.
Earlier Lam turned tearful in a television interview with Hong Kong broadcaster TVB, in which she admitted that the bill was controversial, but said she had “sacrificed” a lot for the city.
Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, however, said that Lam was shedding “crocodile tears,” the Hong Kong Free Press reported.
72 Injured After Police Clash with Protesters in Hong Kong
Hong Kong police said 72 people were injured, with two in critical condition, after local protests escalated on June 12, according to local media.
Tens of thousands had gathered peacefully outside the city’s legislature in protest of a controversial extradition bill that would allow mainland China to seek extradition of suspects wanted by the Chinese regime.
WARNING: The following video contains disturbing footage
The proposed amendments have drawn opposition from across all sectors of Hong Kong society. Opponents say the bill could allow the Chinese Communist Party to charge and extradite with impunity, jeopardizing the city’s autonomy.
Around 3 p.m. local time, the scene descended into chaos after some protesters attempted to break the police line. Local police used pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and bean bags in an attempt to remove protestors from the streets.
The Hong Kong government said debate on the bill that was due to take place at the city’s Legislative Council (LegCo) on June 12 would be delayed until further notice. The LegCo is controlled by a pro-Beijing majority; the bill is thus likely to pass if it proceeds. LegCo head Andrew Leung has vowed to fast-track the bill and bring it to a vote on June 20.