July 20, 2019

Photos From the Hong Kong Extradition Protests

Photos From the Hong Kong Extradition Protests

The Hong Kong government has suspended a bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China, in a significant concession to protesters who turned out by the hundreds of thousands to oppose it.

But that was not enough to stop them from filling the streets again on Sunday.

“Withdraw the bill!” protesters chanted as they marched through central Hong Kong for the second Sunday in a row, fearing that otherwise lawmakers will try to pass it later.

[Follow our live updates on the protests.]

The law would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory, to be transferred for trial in mainland China, where the courts are controlled by the ruling Communist Party. While the Hong Kong government says the law is necessary to prevent the city from becoming a haven for criminals, opponents fear that Beijing could use it to target political dissidents.

[Why are people protesting in Hong Kong? Catch up here.]

The grievances expressed by protesters on Sunday went beyond the extradition bill itself. The police used excessive force at an earlier protest, they said, and were wrong to describe the demonstrations as “riots.” Protesters also called for the release of those who had been arrested and the resignation of Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive.

“Last week, there was only one thing we were marching against,” said Katherine Lam, a 39-year-old data analyst marching with her two young sons. “But this time, there are a lot more reasons.”

As protesters marched more than a mile to the government headquarters, others streamed in from all directions, jamming the subway and bringing the crowd to a near standstill in some places. The turnout rivaled that of a similar march last Sunday, which organizers said drew more than a million people in a city of about seven million.

Protesters who gathered outside the Hong Kong legislature on Wednesday succeeded in forcing lawmakers to postpone a scheduled debate on the extradition bill. But the protests intensified in the afternoon, with demonstrators hurling bricks, bottles and umbrellas as they clashed with the police. When some protesters tried unsuccessfully to storm the building, riot police officers responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The police response recalled the start of the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in 2014, when the use of tear gas on student-led demonstrators angered the public and brought tens of thousands more people into the streets. Demonstrators said they were shocked and dismayed to see tear gas used against them again.

Protesters started arriving outside the Hong Kong government complex on Tuesday night in preparation for the protests on Wednesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Andrew Leung, the president of the Legislative Council, had said that despite mass protests, lawmakers were likely to vote on the bill in less than 10 days, a faster timetable than had been expected. If the measure were to go to a vote, it would be likely to pass because pro-Beijing lawmakers hold 43 of 70 seats in the Hong Kong legislature.

The protest on June 9 was the largest in Hong Kong’s recent history, drawing hundreds of thousands of people on a sweltering afternoon.

Though the demonstration was largely peaceful, after midnight riot police officers removed a few hundred protesters who tried to occupy an area outside the Legislative Council after government officials said that debate on the bill would proceed as scheduled on Wednesday. Some protesters and police officers were injured.

Tiffany May contributed reporting.

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