Hong Kong protests.- Lam formally withdraws the Extradition bill

Eva González , 4 September, 2019

Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Special Administration Region of Hong Kong (SAR CE), announced this mornig that the Government “will formally withdraw the Bill in order to fully allay public concerns. The Secretary for Security will move a motion according to the Rules of Procedure when the Legislative Council resumes.”

The official communication made by Lam today follows the most violent popular protests ever lived in Hong Kong since the so called Umbrella movement started off their demonstrations against the Government refusal to set up universal suffrage, also to elect the person to undertake the SAR CE responsibility.

Hong Kong police banned the demonstration called by theCivil Human Rights Front to be carried out last Saturday, and several activistst (including Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, leaders of Demosisto and Andy Chan, leader of the the now clandestine Hong Kong Pro-Independence Party) were arrested last Friday. Both the prohibition and the arrests, far from quelling social unrest, triggered violent demonstrations and protests all the weekend as well as the students’ general strike on Monday.

On the image.- Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow (leading activists of Demosisto) as arrested by Hong Kong police last Friday 30th August 2019.

Last Saturday, 31st August 2019 was the 5th anniversary of the day in which the protests by the Umbrella movement started off demanding more transparent elections and against the selective pre-screening of candidates for the 2017 election of Hong Kong’s CE decided on 31st August 2014 by the PRC Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (SCNPC).

On the images (up-down): 1.-Police using blue-dye water canon to disperse and identify protesters. 2.- Protesters with umbrellas when being dispersed by tear gas.Police shooting tear gas canisters. 3.- Police shooting tear gas canisters. All these images of Hong Kong protests were taken by Pakkin Leung on 31st August 2019. Source of the pictures, Wikimedia Commons.

Some activists generated dammages in some underground stations and suceeded to collapse the roads to Hong Kong Airport, while the police tried in vain to reduce the protesters by force. Over 30 protesters wounded this is the human outcome of the most violent protests and subsequent police repression since the start of the Umbrella demonstrations in 2014.

Lam’s four actions propposal for social peace

Leaving aside the formal withdrawal of the Project to ammend the current Extradition Law in force in Hong Kong SAR CE announced today other three actions:

Second, we will fully support the work of the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Council). In addition to the overseas experts, I have appointed two new members to the IPCC, namely Mrs Helen Yu Lai Ching-ping and Mr Paul Lam Ting-kwok, SC. I pledge that the Government will seriously follow up the recommendations made in the IPCC’s report.”

The IPCC is an independent body established under the Independent Police Complaints Council Ordinance (IPCCO) (Cap. 604, Laws of Hong Kong) to observe, monitor and review the handling and investigation of Reportable Complaints against the Police by the Commissioner of Police.

Carrie Lam (CE of Hong Kong SAR ). Caption from the video communication by Lam broadcasted today 4th September 2019.

Third, from this month, I and my Principal Officials will reach out to the community to start a direct dialogue. People from all walks of life, with different stances and backgrounds are invited to share their views and air their grievances. We must find ways to address the discontent in society and to look for solutions.

Fourth, I will invite community leaders, professionals and academics to independently examine and review society’s deep-seated problems and to advise the Government on finding solutions. After more than two months of social unrest, it is obvious to many that discontentment extends far beyond the Bill. It covers political, economic and social issues, including the oft-mentioned problems relating to housing and land supply, income distribution, social justice and mobility, and opportunities for our young people, as well as how the public could be fully engaged in the Government’s decision-making. We can discuss all these issues in our new dialogue platform.”

Too little and too late, Demosisto leaders and CHRF answer to Lam

Joshua Wong tweeted just some few hours ago his initial response to Carrie Lam’s communication:

“1. Too little and too late now. Carrie Lam’s response comes after 7 lives sacrificed, more than 1,200 protestors arrested, in which many are mistreated in police station.

“2. The intensified police brutality in the previous weeks have left an irreversible scar to the entire HK society. And therefore, at this very moment, when Carrie Lam announced withdrawal, people would not believe it is a ‘sincere’ move.

“3. Instead, HK people are well-aware of her notorious track record. Whenever there are signs of sending a palm branch, they always come with a far tighter grip on exercising civil rights. Earlier today Ronny Tong has already advised using secret police.

“4. We urge the world too to alert this tactic and not to be deceived by HK and Beijing Govt. They have conceded nothing in fact, and a full-scale clampdown is on the way.

“5. In short, Carrie Lam’s repeated failure in understanding the situation has made this announcement completely out of touch – She needs to address to ALL Five Demands: STOP PROSECUTION, STOP CALLING US RIOTERS, INDEPENDENT INQUIRY OF POLICE and FREE ELECTION!”.

Joshua Wong (leading activist at Demosisto) taking part in a protest. Image from Wong’s Facebook wall.

The CHRF blames Carrie Lam for his authoritarian reaction to last weekend’s protests in their official answer to SAR CF published on facebook today. The Front says that if she had attended from the very beginning the democratic requests of the people of Hong Kong, the protests on August 31st and September 1st would not have occurred. They also underline that apart from the withdrawal of the Extradition Law project Lam does not attend to any other claims of the pro-democracy movements. The CHRF speaks of the need for an Independent Commission to investigate police actions during the demonstrations, which suggests that the Front does not consider the IPCC as an independent investigating body.

Jimmy Sham (Leader and spokes person for the Human Rights Front).

The CHRF ends its statement concluding that Lam has not responded to citizen’s demands and calling on the people of Hong Kong to continue fighting all together against the oppressive attitude of the Government.

Protesters demanded once and another the resignation of Carrie Lam during the protests held last weekend.

Hong Kong SAR CE warned today in her video communication that the Government will “strictly enforce the law against all violent and illegal acts”.

Geng Shuang (Spokesperson at the Foreign Affair Ministry PRC).

“The recent demonstrations and rallies in Hong Kong have gone far beyond the scope of freedom of assembly, procession and demonstration. They are radical, violent activities that severely undermine Hong Kong’s rule of law and social order, gravely threaten the life and property of Hong Kong citizens, and seriously challenge the basic principle of “one country, two systems”.

“If those activities took place in a European country, I believe no government would turn a blind eye to them,” Geng Shuang (PRC Foreign Ministry Spokesperson) said during the Regular Press Conference on September 2nd, 2019.

Geng Shuang answered this way Federica Mogherini ( EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy), who had voiced last friday her deep concern about protests and Government and police action in Hong Kong.

HK Bar Association, against mass defiance of court injunctions and police brutality

The Hong Kong Bar Association has condemned both mass defiance of court injunctions banning the demonstration called by the CHRF on 31st August and the police brutality during the protests held last weekend.

Left: .- Protesters using lipstick and putting “#ProtestToo” on their arm on 28th August 2019. Photo by Pakkin Leung .Right: Hong Kong protesters holding signs against police sexual violence on 28th August 2019. Photo by Pakkin Leung . Both images sourced from Wikkimedia Commons.

I must remember here that the members of the Hong Kong Bar Association (HKBA) have taken an active role against the Government’s Law project to ammend the Extradition Law currently in force. The Association have even published an statement calling lam to formally withdraw the mentioned Law project: “HKBA sees that the Government has now decided to suspend the Bill’s legislative process, but has not announced that it will withdraw it altogether. It notes further that the Chief Executive (CE) in announcing the Government’s decision stated that the Bill will lapse if its second reading is not resumed before the end of this legislative term in July 2020.

“Notwithstanding that the Bill is unlikely to be re-introduced this term, HKBA considers that the Government’s failure to withdraw the Bill is wholly unsatisfactory because it gives rise to concerns that any future consultation to be conducted by the Government on the topics of the surrender of fugitives and cross-border legal assistance will still be curtailed by the parameters set by the Bill.
HKBA therefore asks the Government to withdraw the Bill and make a commitment that it will not introduce any legislation on the question of surrender of fugitives and cross-border legal assistance without full and open consultation involving the Hong Kong public and others who have an interest in the subject matter.”

Los abogados de Hong Kong se manifiestan, vestidos de negro, contra el Proyecto de Ley de Extradición. Fotografía por Iris Tong (dominio público)

Hong Kong lawyers protest, dressed in black, against the Extradition Law project. Photo by Iris Tong (public domain)

The HKBA refers to the joint statement by seven international legal bodies (The England and Wales Bar Human Rights Committee, the Law Society of England and Wales, the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, the Defence Extradition Lawyers Forum, the International Forum of Extradition Specialists and Fair Trials) published on 14 June 2019 on the Bill: “The joint statement observed that the Government’s proposals to amend the two ordinances ‘fundamentally imperil of the operation of the rule of law in Hong Kong’”.

The Association also asks Lam’s Government for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry to fully investigate into the relevant events including the guidelines (if any) on the use of force by the police against protestors during the dempnstrations held “in the vicinity of the Central Government Offices on 12 June 2019.”

Image over the headline.- Fire created by protesters as a line of defense during Hong Kong protests against the project of new Extradition Law on 31st August 2019. Photo by Pakkin Leung [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]. To watch the original photo click here

Related external links:

Official communication by Carrie Lam (CE Hong Kong SAR) -04/09/2019- (English)

Official response by the Civil Human Rights Front to Lam’s official communication on 04/09/2019 (Chinese)

Joshua Wong ( leading activist at Demosisto) answers Carrie Lam’s communication on 04/09/2019 (English)

Hong Kong Bar Association condemns mass defiance of court injunctions banning the demonstration called by the CHRF (English)

Hong Kong Bar Association condemns police brutality against Hongkong dwellers on 31st August and 1st September (English)

Hong Kong Bar Association call on Carrie Lam to formally withdraw the law project on Extradition (English)

Police brutality against Hong Kong dwellers and protesters at Hong Kong underground on 31st August 2019 (video)

Police brutality against Hong Kong dwellers and protesters during the demonstrations held on 31st August 2019 (12 photos by Pakking Leung)

Related Eastwind links (Spanish edition):

Hong Kong.- El Gobierno prohibe la manifestación del sábado y varios activistas serán juzgados por incitar las protestas del 21 de junio
(Hong Kong.- The government prohibits the demonstration on Saturday and several activists will be tried for inciting protests on June 21st)

Related Eastwind links:

Trump orders US companies to stop operations in China, while Google, Twitter and Facebook block “fishy” contents on Hong Kong unrest