Following the million-strong turnout on June 9, Hong Kong’s top official, Carrie Lam, remained undeterred in pushing the bill forward. So, thousands of protesters showed up outside the city’s government complex before a scheduled legislative debate on the bill was to begin on June 12.
The protests turned violent when police began firing tear gas, rubber bullets, and bean bags to disperse the crowd. Local organizations, international human-rights groups, and U.S. government officials made statements condemning the heavy use of force against citizens.
“The demonstrators’ courage in the face of threats, police batons, and tear gas is an example for the world to follow. We support these demonstrators as they fight for freedom and call on Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to respect their right to peacefully protest,” wrote a group of U.S. senators in a joint statement on June 12.
The organizers of last week’s march, the Civil Human Rights Front, announced in a Facebook post on June 13 that they have applied with police for a march on June 16, to protest the “police force’s violent suppression of citizens.”
The group said it had three demands: a condemnation of police violently suppressing the protesters; the extradition bill to be withdrawn; and for Lam to step down. It added that its police application includes a rally for June 17, when people are encouraged to boycott classes, leave work, and close down businesses—dubbed the “three suspensions.”
Meanwhile, the pro-Beijing head of the legislature has postponed debate on the extradition proposal until further notice.
The bill, which would allow any country, including mainland China, to seek extradition of criminal suspects, has drawn broad opposition. Hong Kong citizens and Western government officials have expressed concerns that given China’s disregard for rule of law, the changes could allow the regime to charge its critics with impunity.
Frank Fang contributed to this report.