'Protests To Last Till Fugitive Bill Is Dropped'

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2019-06-12 HKT 15:31

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  • Intermittent rain and the long hours of wait did little to flag the enthusiasm of the protesters. Photo: AFP

    Intermittent rain and the long hours of wait did little to flag the enthusiasm of the protesters. Photo: AFP

  • Civil Human Rights Front leader Jimmy Sham addressing the crowd. Photo: RTHK

    Civil Human Rights Front leader Jimmy Sham addressing the crowd. Photo: RTHK

  • Some policemen at Legco feel the fatigue as stand-off continued. Photo: RTHK

    Some policemen at Legco feel the fatigue as stand-off continued. Photo: RTHK

The organisers of the huge protest that has paralysed the area around the government headquarters and the Legislative Council have declared that they will not be withdrawing from the area till government drops the controversial fugitive bill.

Addressing tens of thousands of protesters, the Civil Human Rights Front convenor Jimmy Sham said the protesters will not leave unless Chief Executive Carrie Lam withdraws the extradition bill.

He said there is only one convenor in this protest, and that person is Carrie Lam, and only she can disband the protesters here now.

The front had on Sunday organised a protest rally on the same issue and over a million people took to the street then. But the next day Lam, while acknowledging the huge turnout, remained steadfast on the government's plan.

As tens of thousands of protesters started pouring into the area ahead of the schedule start of the debate in the full council, the Legco secretariat announced that it is postponing it to a later time, without specifying when.

But as the crowd rose to tens of thousand occupying the key roads, it brought back memories of the 2014 Occupy protests which saw demonstrators take over the same areas for 79 days in a protest demanding greater democracy. Intermittent rain and the long hours of wait did little to flag the enthusiasm of the protesters.

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki, who also addressed the crowd on Wednesday with other opposition lawmakers, called on demonstrators to avoid engaging in violent protests, saying the police could use that as an excuse to crack down on them.

Another opposition lawmaker, Au Nok-hin, meanwhile told the crowd that a pro-government legislator, Paul Tse, was spotted trying to reach the Legco complex, by pretending to be a protester. Au also held up a picture of what he said was of Tse wearing a mask.

As the hours dragged on, chatter on social media was vigorous. In some group chats, messages were circulating about a warning issued by a group which said they will raise the ante if the government does not meet their demands by 3pm.

Some groups claimed to have thousands of numbers, but none of this could be verified independently.

As the afternoon wore on, police officers with shields, batons and guns who were guarding the entrance of Legco and the government’s headquarters were also seen slumped on the floor, with some taking a catnap.

But in a statement, security analysts Steve Vickers and Associates warned the new protests have raised the risks of significant violence and disruption in Hong Kong.

Its statement said some protesters seemed to be prepared for violent confrontation. "The government may yet reduce tensions by suspending the proposed extradition law, although it has hitherto shown little sign of any willingness to do so," it said.

Meanwhile about 400 secondary school pupils gathered at Edinburgh Place in Central to take part in a class boycott.

The assembly has been organised by a collection of youth groups. Isaac Cheng, vice-chairman of one of the groups involved, Demosisto, said the event had been moved away from the Legco complex due to safety concerns.