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09.07.2019 Asia

Hong Kong protesters unconvinced by Carrie Lam's extradition claim

By RFI with Adam Hagan
REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
JUL 9, 2019 ASIA

Demonstrators have rejected assurances by the city's leader that the extradition bill will not be forced into law. The contentious legislation remains on the official agenda.

Protesters in Hong Kong on Tuesday rejected assurances from the city's pro-Beijing leader, Carrie Lam, that the controversial extradition bill 'is dead'.

The proposed legislation has caused numerous demonstrations across Hong Kong in recent weeks, with hundreds of thousands of protestors from different sectors coming together to make their voices heard. The Hong Kong parliament was stormed at one point by activists.

The bill, if it were introduced, would allow Hong Kong to extradite suspects of crimes like murder and rape, to mainland China, Taiwan and Macau.

However, opponents of the bill claim that the legislation would expose people in Hong Kong to arbitrary detention and unfair treatment under the Chinese justice system.

Bill still on legislative table
Lam has repeatedly said in public in recent weeks that the extradition bill will not go ahead. However she still refuses to conduct the legal procedures required to remove the bill from Hong Kong's legislative agenda, which has left doubts in the minds of the bill's opponents.

Johnny Patterson, Director of Hong Kong watch, a human rights group, claims that Lam is more concerned with her government's reputation than the people of Hong Kong.

“I think today shows she's more concerned about how the Hong Kong government's actions appear to the international community than her own people.

“The activists have been looking for complete legal withdrawal of the bill since 9 June and then 16 June and she has ignored them in both cases and is instead trying to find different ways to say the same thing which is that she's going to suspend it and leave it as potentially active until the end of this legislative period.”

Demonstrators demand independent inquiry
Along with demanding complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, protestors have also campaigned for an independent inquiry to be held into police brutality during a protest march on 12 June, when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators.

Patterson added: “It's absolutely right to have an independent inquiry, the actions of the police were obviously a violation of international human rights standards and they shouldn't be left to make the decision by themselves.

“There hasn't been an inquiry into any of the major police actions during protests in the last five years.

“An independent inquiry is the only way to hold the police to account and also to de-escalate tensions within the community.”