Hundreds of Hong Kong protesters marched to several foreign consulates to hand in petition letters on Wednesday, urging G20 countries to raise concerns about the city at the leaders’ summit later this week.
After gathering in Chater Garden in Central at 9am, demonstrators first proceeded to the nearby US consulate. Ventus Lau, one of the activists who led marchers, told HKFP that around 1,500 people joined.
Along the way, protesters chanted slogan such as “free Hong Kong,” “liberate Hong Kong.”
They demanded a complete withdrawal of the Hong Kong government’s extradition bill, as well as an independent investigation into the level of force used by the police during the June 12 protests.
Beijing has said that it will not allow discussion of the Hong Kong issue during the meeting. Activist Baggio Leung told HKFP that it meant that China expected that the issue will be discussed by other countries attending Friday’s meeting in Osaka, Japan.
“We want to do whatever we can before the G20,” he said.
The extradition bill was first proposed in February to allow the city to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreement. However, there have been mass protests and widespread criticism over the risk of residents being extradited to mainland China, which lacks human rights protections. The bill was suspended after huge demonstrations, but has not been axed.
A social work student, who gave her name as Chan, said she hoped the extradition bill would be withdrawn and an investigative committee be formed.
The first stop is the US consulate. A speaker, wearing a mask said: “We can no longer trust, a social system and political leaders… we are leaderless and our momentum is driven by the will of the people.”
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) June 26, 2019
“We hope to raise international concern. After all, consulates are bridges to their home countries,” she said.
Harvey Sernovitz, a spokesperson for the US consulate, received the protesters’ petition letter at their first stop.
A protester handing the letter to Sernovitz said: “President Trump has publicly announced that he has [an] intention to bring up Hong Kong’s situation at the G20 summit, we are truly grateful for his attention.”
“We humbly ask that you can further extend our plea to other heads of state and particularly [Chinese] President Xi during the G20 talks, and stand behind Hong Kong’s autonomy,” he added.
They then proceeded to the EU Office in Hong Kong, opposite the US Consulate. Deputy Head of the Office Jolita Pons received the demonstrators’ letter.
At the British consulate in Admiralty, Deputy Consul General Esther Blythe received the petition letter.
Marchers then split into three different groups heading to Central, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay to carry on handing petition letters to other G20 consulates, including Canada, Japan, Germany and France.
In total, they will visit 19 foreign consulates.
Some marchers may also join the rally hosted by the Civil Human Rights Front at 8pm at Edinburgh Place in Central.
Security chief at LegCo
Meanwhile, at the Legislative Council on Wednesday, Secretary for Security John Lee did not answer as to whether the government will officially withdraw or postpone the extradition bill, in accordance to rule 64 of the legislature’s rule book.
Lee was surrounded by the pro-democracy lawmakers as he left the legislature’s main chamber.
The question arose after remarks by former Legislative Council president Andrew Wong during an RTHK TV debate on Tuesday. He said there was no such thing as a “suspension” of a bill in the legislature’s rule book, despite the government insisting the bill had been postponed.
A fresh call to protest on Thursday at Justice Place – the office of the secretary for justice – has been distributed among activists. Demonstrators are set to gather should the government fail to respond to their demands by Wednesday.
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.