Hong Kong protesters vow to keep ‘fighting for their freedom’

Hong Kong protesters vow to keep ‘fighting for their freedom’

September 5, 2019

Hong Kong protesters vow to keep ‘fighting for their freedom’ as their leader’s decision to withdraw the extradition bill fails to ease anti-government unrest

  • More clashes occurred at wee hours in Hong Kong despite the bill withdrawal
  • Activists stormed and vandalised a metro station, attacking a subway worker 
  • Students continued to protesting on campus in the third day of a school strike
  • Protesters want all their demands met, which include investigation into police
  • Online forums were filled with calls for new rallies – including plans on Saturday 

More clashes have occurred between protesters and police in Hong Kong after a decision from the city’s leader to withdraw a much-hated extradition bill was deemed ‘too little, too late’.

Pro-Beijing chief executive Carrie Lam surprised many yesterday when she suddenly announced to scrap the unpopular law amendment which sparked three-month-long anti-government rallies. Lam’s move has failed to ease the unrest. 

Activists vowed to keep fighting for their freedom until all of their five demands are satisfied. 

Police officers charge on a street to disperse protesters outside of Po Lam Station at wee hours

A protester is detained by police outside of Po Lam Station as the city’s unrest continues

Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing chief executive Carrie Lam announced her decision to formally withdrawn an extradition bill that sparked the protests in a television announcement yesterday

‘Until the day all these demands are met, Hong Kongers will not yield,’ one activist said at a ‘citizens press conference’.

Protesters are also demanding the government set up an independent panel to investigate the alleged police violence against demonstrators, which Lam has firmly refused.

They also demand the government immediately release the people arrested during clashes, retract its characterisation of protesters as ‘rioters’ and carry out genuine universal suffrage.

Lam has said that the decision to withdraw the bill was her government’s own initiative, not Beijing’s directive. 

A police officer holds up pepper spray as he attempts to disperses protesters in Po Lam Station

A protester is detained by a riot police officer in the demonstration in Po Lam Station

A protester is detained by police in Po Lam Station during clashes at wee hours on Thursday

Lam’s unprecedented climbdown has not put a stop to the city’s turmoil.

Clashes took place in the wee hours today at metro station Po Lam in the New Territories. Hundreds of activists wearing black tops stormed the station and vandalised facilities.

One subway worker was hospitalised after being cornered and attacked by the activists. The employee had to be rescued by police and the station had to be shut. 

A spokesperson from Hong Kong MTR condemned the violent acts.

Protesters also gathered outside the Mong Kok Police Station and shouted ‘five demands, not one less’. 

Police said they arrested four men, aged between 22 and 44, last night. They were accused of attending unauthorised assemblies, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and false imprisonment respectively. 

Nealry 1,200 people have been arrested in connection with the protests since June. 

More than 100 students today took part in a rally in the University of Hong Kong to denounce police brutality and urge Lam to respond to all five demands made by protesters. 

Students and pupils across the city have boycotted classes and demonstrated for three days in a row. 

An anti-extradition bill protester shouts at riot police outside Po Lam Station during a rally

Protesters open umbrellas, a symbol of the anti-government movement, in Po Lam Station

Millions of people have taken to Hong Kong’s streets since June in the biggest challenge to China’s rule of semi-autonomous Hong Kong since its handover from the British in 1997.

The protests were sparked by the now-withdrawn bill which would allow some criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China to stand trial.

It then morphed into a broader campaign calling for democratic reforms and police accountability.

At a press conference today, Lam said her decision to fully withdraw the bill was an attempt ‘to help prevent violence and stop chaos as soon as possible, resume the social order and help our economy and people’s livelihood to move forward’.

A student holds a sign to condemned police brutality at a rally in the University of Hong Kong

Students of Kit Sam Lam Bing Yim Secondary School form a human chain at a rally on Thursday

Students from the University of Hong Kong protest on campus on Thursday with their right eye covered in solidarity with a woman who was injured during clashes with police last month

‘It is obvious to many of us that the discontentment in society extends far beyond the bill,’ she added, saying she recognised that anger over inequality and the government had spiralled and needed to be solved.

She renewed her appeal for protesters to enter into a dialogue with her administration and called on moderate protesters to abandon their more militant allies who have frequently clashed with riot police over the last 14 weeks.

Hong Kong’s protests are leaderless and organised through social media, encompassing a vast swathe of the city, from moderates to more radical groups.

Since Lam’s announcement on Wednesday evening there has been uniform condemnation across the protest spectrum with activists vowing to keep up their campaign.

Lam said today the decision to withdraw the bill was her government’s own initiative

Millions of people have taken to Hong Kong’s streets since June in the biggest challenge to China’s rule of semi-autonomous Hong Kong since its handover from the British in 1997

The protests were sparked by the now-withdrawn bill which would allow some criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial, sparking fears of Beijing’s political overreach 

At a ‘citizens press conference’ on Wednesday evening – a useful gauge of the youth-led wing on the frontlines at rallies – an unidentified woman wearing a mask and helmet rejected the concession.

She said in English: ‘We are one demand down and we have four to go. We will not settle for less.’

She continued: ‘If Carrie Lam had withdrawn the bill two months ago, that may have been a quick fix,’ she said. ‘But applying a band-aid months later on to rotting flesh will simply not cut it.’

After her speech, the spokesperson and other activists at the conference yelled ‘fight for freedom, save Hong Kong’.

A masked activist (right) is seen talking to the press at a ‘citizens press conference’ yesterday. She said: ‘We are one demand down and we have four to go. We will not settle for less’

The spokesperson and other activists then yelled ‘fight for freedom, save Hong Kong’

Online forums used by protesters have been filled with calls for new rallies – including plans on Saturday to disrupt transport links to the city’s airport, a major regional aviation hub.

More moderate pan-democrat lawmakers have also rejected the concession and even some pro-establishment figures within Lam’s camp have said the bill withdrawal will not do enough to curb public anger.

So far Lam has consistently rejected the protesters’ four other demands, even though many say backing an independent enquiry could peel some moderate protesters away from the movement.

Lam’s decision to bow to one of their key demands was condemned as ‘too little, too late’. Pictured, protesters hold a vigil for democracy in Hong Kong in Berlin on September 5

The timing of Lam’s bill withdrawal was a surprise but it came after leaked audio recordings emerged of her suggesting her options were limited because Beijing viewed the protests as a direct threat to China’s sovereignty and national security.

China has increasingly portrayed the protests as a foreign-backed ‘colour revolution’ and described radical demonstrators as ‘terrorists’ and ‘separatists’.

Speaking Thursday, Lam insisted her decision to withdraw the bill was hers alone and that she received no direction from the mainland — although she said Beijing supported the move.

‘They respect my decision and they support it at every stage,’ she said.

What is happening in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong protesters are demanding democratic reforms and the complete withdraw of a law bill that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China to stand trial. Protesters are pictured waving their phones in a demonstration on August 28

Hong Kong has been rocked by a series of anti-government protests for the past three months. The demonstrations were initially sparked by a proposed law that would allow some criminal suspects to be sent to the mainland China to stand trial.

Hong Kong is ruled under the ‘one country, two system’ policy and has different legal and governing systems to mainland China. The principle was agreed on by China and the UK before the former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.

However, many residents in the semi-autonomous city feel that their freedoms are eroding due to the tight political grip of Beijing.

The extradition bill was suspended indefinitely by the government in June, but the rallies have morphed into a wider pro-democracy movement that calls for government reforms and universal suffrage, among others.

Protesters are also demanding an independent enquiry into what they view as excessive violence from the police during clashes.

Mass rallies, sometimes attended by as many as two million people, have taken place every weekend for 13 weeks since June 9.

Protesters have targeted government buildings, Beijing’s representative office in Hong Kong, shopping centres and international airport to express their demands. 

The demonstrations often start with a peaceful march or sit-in and end up in violent clashes between activists and police. 

A repeated pattern sees activists throwing items such as bricks and petrol bombs at the police and anti-riot officers firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

More than 1,180 people have been arrested in connection with the protests.

Beijing has described the situation in Hong Kong the ‘worst crisis’ the city has seen since its handover in 1997. It has also called some activists ‘rioters’ and ‘political terrorists’.

It is widely believed that the central government is determined to quell the chaos before October 1 when the country will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. 

The city’s chief executive Carrie Lam formally withdrew the extradition bill on September 4 in a bid to ease the chaos. 

She is yet to satisfy the protesters’ other demands. 

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