It is estimated over 1 million protesters marched through Hong Kong on Sunday, June 9, in opposition to legislation that would allow anyone communist China has an issue with to be quickly turned over to mainland China’s communist party to be tried, The Associated Press said.

The reason behind the protests, critics said, is the proposed legislation would leave anyone in Hong Kong vulnerable to extradition by Chinese Communist Party for politically charged reasons or even smaller business offenses, completely undermining Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous legal system, and possibly subjecting those extradited to unfair and horrific punishment, even possibly torture or worse.

Protesters hold placards and march in the streets as they take part in a rally against the proposed amendments to an extradition law in Hong Kong, on June 9, 2019. The amendments have been widely criticized as eroding the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s judicial independence by making it easier to send criminal suspects to mainland China. (Kin Cheung/AP Photo)

The massive gathering of protesters happened three days before Hong Kong’s government planned to bring the extradition bill to the Legislature in an effort to have it in place by the end of June.

People from all backgrounds and all ages took part in the protest, most of them wearing white T-shirts and many carrying umbrellas.

Taking the stage

Kiwi Wong, 27, was one of the protesters joining the march. She told a reporter at the scene, “If I didn’t come out now, I don’t know when I would have the chance to express my opinion again.”

“Because now we’ve got to this stage, if you don’t come out to try to do what you can, then it will end up too late, you won’t be able to say or do anything about it,” Wong added.

A protester during a rally against the proposed amendments to the extradition law in Hong Kong, on June 9, 2019. A sea of protesters marched through central Hong Kong in a major demonstration against government-sponsored legislation that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China to face criminal charges. (Kin Cheung/AP Photo)

Another protester, Alex Ng, a 67-year-old retiree said, “I think that there was never any public consultation about this law, and there are a lot of uncertainties.”

The Hong Kong government released a statement Sunday night, June 9, saying it respected the right of its opponents to protest.

“We acknowledge and respect that people have different views on a wide range of issues,” the statement said.

Protesters march in a rally against the proposed amendments to an extradition law in Hong Kong, on June 9, 2019. A sea of protesters marched through central Hong Kong in a major demonstration against government-sponsored legislation that would allow people to be extradited to mainland China to face criminal charges. (Kin Cheung/AP Photo)

Freedom of expression

“The procession today is an example of Hong Kong people exercising their freedom of expression within their rights as enshrined in the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance,” it said.

Currently, extradition laws in Hong Kong exclude China because of its poor record on human rights and legal independence. 

 

It is widely recognized that the Chinese Communist Party in China does not respect the constitutional laws of other nations, nor even its own constitution.

Hong Kong has worked with other territories, which it has extradition agreements with on a case-by-case basis before 1997, when it was handed over from British to Chinese rule, under a so-called one country, two systems framework.

Although the protests were peaceful throughout Sunday, and early on Monday, some violence broke out between police and the protesters.

Several hundred riot police were armed with batons, shields, tear gas guns, and pepper spray. The police had sealed off the Legislative Council, as protesters charged their lines, according to Reuters.

Includes reporting by The Associated Press