By Tim Lam
Thousands of people across Australia took to the streets last Sunday to protest against Hong Kong’s controversial extradition law.
Rallies were held in all six Australian states, with protests in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, Perth and Adelaide. A demonstration was also held at the national capital in Canberra.
In Melbourne, home to one of Australia’s largest Hong Kong communities, hundreds gathered outside the State Library of Victoria to express solidarity with Hong Kong protesters.
The demonstrators included a large contingent of Hong Kong and Taiwanese students, along with members of the Australian Tibetan community and former Umbrella Movement protesters.
The rally began with a minute’s silence for an extradition law protester who died on Saturday evening after falling from a mall in Admiralty.
Flowers and candles were also placed at a memorial on the steps of the State Library of Victoria.
Chanting “Say No to China Extradition”, the protesters called on Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam to withdraw the extradition law, condemn and investigate police violence and retract the classification of the June 12 protests as a “riot”.
Jane Poon, from Australia-Hong Kong Link, was one of the event organisers who addressed the crowd.
“How can Carrie Lam, as a mother, use tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds to ‘reprimand’ her children?” Poon said.
“How can Stephen Lo send his police to use their batons to strike our youth?
“We must protect and stand up for our youth. Carrie Lam and Stephen Lo still June 12 a riot – so the young people can still be arrested and jailed.”
Hannah, originally from Hong Kong, asked people who care about human rights to pray for Hong Kong.
“I am a Hong Kong person and I’m also a Christian. Seeing so many Christians peacefully singing Sing Hallelujah to the Lord in front of the police made me very emotional,” she said.
“God is watching what’s happening in Hong Kong right now.”
A number of people from mainland China also attended the Melbourne protest.
A man who identified himself as Ming said he joined the rally to show his support for the Hong Kong protests.
“A lot of people in China don’t know what’s going on as they just follow the mainstream media report from the government’s side,” he said.
“I feel very sad about what’s happening to the Hong Kongers. Their freedom becomes more and more limited.”
“But the younger generation of Hong Kongers haven’t been brainwashed. So many people have come out and I think that’s the future of Hong Kong.”
Earlier in the day, Hong Kong international students from Melbourne universities organised a silent protest in the heart of Melbourne’s central business district.
“Many of the young people protesting in Hong Kong right now are our friends,” one of the protesters said.
“We are in the exam period here in Australia, and we feel so powerless.”
“But even though we are in Melbourne and not Hong Kong, we can still do something.”
Protesters also expressed disappointment at the response of Hong Kong born-Australian MP (a member of Parliament) Gladys Liu to the extradition law.
Last month, Liu became the first Chinese woman elected to the Australian parliament.
In an interview with Australian news channel SBS, Liu said she “hasn’t really looked into the details of the legislation”.
This was the second time in two weeks that public demonstrations against the extradition law were held in Australia.
Previously, protests in five Australian cities attracted an estimated 5,000 people.
Kong Tsung-gan‘s new collection of essays – narrative, journalistic, documentary, analytical, polemical, and philosophical – trace the fast-paced, often bewildering developments in Hong Kong since the 2014 Umbrella Movement. As Long As There Is Resistance, There Is Hope is available exclusively through HKFP with a min. HK$200 donation. Thanks to the kindness of the author, 100 per cent of your payment will go to HKFP’s critical 2019 #PressForFreedom Funding Drive.