Hong Kong protest movements against the HK government’s proposed extradition laws commenced in June of this year, marked with anger and violence. Contrary to predictions that the unceasing Hong Kong show of resistance, will become more violent, the largest movement of protesters that came out last Friday proved the predictions wrong.
August 23, saw more than 2 million protesters, in what is touted as the largest seen in Hong Kong since the British government gave the territory back to China in 1997 . Flocking in an organized and calm manner, the peaceful demonstration drew inspiration from the “Baltic Way,” the act of defiance that won the citizens of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, their freedom from Russia.
Millions of demonstrators joined hands to line up pavements, parks, overpasses and waterfronts, forming a human chain across the city; extending and scaling the famous Lion Rock, whilst outlining the peak with lights coming from multitudes of mobile phones. The human chain spanned nearly 30 miles (50km), weaving through streets and subways in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories.
The idea of forming a human chain was conceived after communities of professionals came out to show support for the demonstrators. An unlikely gathering of thousands of accountants in a city square came to rally, following suit to the silent protest actions previously led by teachers, lawyers and medical workers.
Moreover, church groups, alumni of secondary schools and universities, as well as students from overseas, published hundreds of online petitions that gave arguments against proposed amendments that would put in place extradition laws.
Why do the Citizens of Hong Kong Strongly Oppose the Government’s Proposed Extradition Bill?
First off, Hong Kong has no extradition laws. The HK government contends that the proposed amendment would tie up loose ends that prevent the territory from being used as a safe haven by criminals. However, critics argue that the implications are far more serious than the dangers perceived by lawmakers. An extradition law, even if primarily targeting criminals, will only expose Hong Kong nationals to China’s swift but unsound justice system, which many fear will eventually erode the territory’s judicial independence.
After seeing the show of strength and unity by millions of protesters that came to organize Hong Kong’s version of the Baltic Way, the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam, declared the proposed extradition bill as “dead.” However, her declaration was not enough to convince the multitude that the bill will be actually withdrawn, because protesters are now calling for direct elections.