Twenty-seven former Hong Kong government officials and politicians have signed a joint appeal to the government to withdraw plans to amend extradition laws, days after clashes broke out over the controversial bill.
The group on Friday called on pro-establishment legislators who hold the majority in the Legislative Council to vote against the bill while urging members of the governing team to tell Chief Executive Carrie Lam to yield to public opinion and resign if their advice is ignored.
“We love Hong Kong and have served Hong Kong for many years,” their statement read. “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… force [by police] to suppress protest lead Hong Kong?”
The protesters’ occupation of the area outside the legislature ended in violence on Wednesday as police deployed tear gas and rubber bullets against crowds advancing forwards throwing objects. The demonstrators blocked major roads in Admiralty throughout the day using makeshift barricades. Eighty-one people injured at the protest had attended 10 public hospitals as of Thursday evening, according to the Hospital Authority. Police chief Stephen Lo said 22 police officers had also been injured and 11 arrests were made.
The unrest followed a mass rally on Sunday against the extradition bill that organisers said was attended by 1.03 million people, although police put the figure at 240,000.
Hong Kong proposed legal amendments in February to allow the city to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements – most notably China. Lawyers, journalists, foreign politicians and businesses have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland, which lacks human rights protections. The debate in the legislature has been postponed.
On Friday, Michael Tien became the first pro-Beijing legislator to call publicly for a delay of the extradition bill: “Taiwan has said it does not want the transfer [of murder suspect Chan Tong-kai], so I don’t understand why [Carrie Lam] is still so adamant,” he told reporters at LegCo.
Michael Tien has become the first pro-Beijing legislator to openly call for a delay of the extradition bill.
"Taiwan has said it does not want the transfer [of murder suspect Chan Tong-kai], so I don't understand why [Carrie Lam] is still so adamant," he told reporters at LegCo. pic.twitter.com/yoTjraB6P0
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) June 14, 2019
The group of former government officials and politicians urged current officials to respond to recent protests by either condemning the bill or voting against it.
“This is not only a departure from the principle of responsible government but has provoked public anger and directly led to the bloody conflict between the police and countless young people who bravely came forward in an attempt to stop the passage of the Bill, and have been injured in the process,” their statement read. “This is our future generation to be cherished, how can anyone with a heart not be pained to see the treatment they received?”
The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters. HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.