Hong Kong’s Fight for Democracy: The Extradition Law Protests

by Kwan Yee Wong

The 2019 Hong Kong Protests has extended far beyond a hundred days.

The amendment of the extradition law in Hong Kong has been the fuse for citizens to stop withstanding the pro-Beijing government. The government has failed to implement policies that are truly democratic for the people since the handover from the British in 1997.

Democracy and freedom has been in our veins, like the “true Hong Kong anthem” mentions, hoping that both lasts forever. Demonstrations against regulations contrary to our will has been part of the culture of expressing freedom through protest and a pathway to communicate with the government.

The demonstration in 2003 is amongst our history of protests. Half a million citizens joined in to oppose the Article 23 legislation on the national security laws. Despite the bill being shelved, it was only a temporal victory. The 2003 protest was the highest protest turnout before the one on 9th June 2019, which was against the extradition law.

Unpleasant emotions were fumingly raised among citizens since the failure of the Umbrella Movement in 2014. The well-known Umbrella Movement was the demand for dual universal suffrage that each citizen has a vote for our Chief Executive as well as the Legislative Council members. Many university students participated by fasting and occupying the streets day and night hoping the government will change its laws and policies. Despite its failure, it successfully aroused people’s political awareness on how cold and cruel the invasion of a dictatorial governance is happening in Hong Kong, eroding our freedom and democracy.

Two consecutive peaceful protests were held on 9th June and 16th June, there were 1 million and 2 million people (respectively) who participated in the protests demanding the withdrawal of the extradition law. Yet, Carrie Lam the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, turned a blind eye and refused the withdrawal of the law. This proved that the pathway of communication via protests is “dead”. Leading to a development of a varying and unrelated protests in Hong Kong such as “Hong Kong Chain”, “Airport capacity and capability tests”, “MTR strike”, “Laser Pointer Nights” etc., widely spreading the venue of the protests from Admiralty to Kowloon and even to the New Territories in Hong Kong.

Yet, during the widespread protests, the outrageous fact of brutality and hand-joining between the triads and police was unmasked on 21st July. Further connecting more Hong Kong people in condemning the inexplicit powers of the police force, demanding the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry and comprehensive investigation on police power.

Scenes from the 2019 protests.

Another shocking protest erupted on 31st August, when there was a sudden and large-scale service shutdown of the MTR in a bid to transport the police. There was a reasonable suspicion of 3 missing citizens who were beaten to death at Prince Edward station by the police on duty.

Thus far, nothing has been impossible. There are police officers dressed up as protesters passing the blame on protesters and even fomenting violence. The Student Union Chairman was arrested for buying a laser pointer. Holding two Octopus (MTR) fare cards can be considered as pick pocketing and has been used as a reason for arrests. Appallingly, it is believed that recent massive manmade suicide incidents are a way for the police to treat dead bodies after inhumane mistreatment and sexual violence in the San Uk Ling Holding Centre, close to the Shenzhen- Hong Kong border in a remote area, that has been used to detain protesters.

Hong Kong is the remaining barrier fighting against ‘Chinazi’ and has no return from losing in the game. We’ve experienced the dreadful impact of dictatorship, if Hong Kong loses, the same nightmare is believed to be re-lived sooner or later.

 

Kwan Yee Long, Masters student at The University of Hong Kong. University of Leeds Study Abroad student 2016/17.