Protesters in Hong Kong have demanded the resignation of the city’s leader over a proposed extradition law.
Hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Hong Kong on Sunday to show their opposition to the bill. It would permit criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.
The protest near the Hong Kong government offices blocked major roads in the area. Organizers said almost two million people took part. Officials reopened the roads Monday, but protesters continued to press their demands.
Last week, Hong Kong police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters outside the government headquarters building.
Opponents of the extradition bill have demanded that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam resign because of the proposal. Lam issued a statement Sunday apologizing for the government’s actions on the legislation. She also announced that work on the bill had been suspended, with no plan for a restart.
The protesters do not accept the statement. They demand that the bill be permanently withdrawn and that Lam resign.
On Monday, Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong expressed his opposition to the extradition proposal. "Carrie Lam must step down," Wong told reporters after being released from prison. Wong was one of the leaders of Hong Kong’s 2014 Umbrella Movement protests. He spent two months in jail on charges related to those demonstrations.
Wong predicted that if Lam remains in office, even more people will "join our fight until the day we get back our basic human rights and freedom."
Many protesters and pro-democracy legislators have called the extradition proposal an “evil bill” that would violate Hong Kong’s right to self-rule. The Chinese government supports the legislation.
Hong Kong currently limits extraditions only to countries with which it has existing agreements. China has been excluded from such agreements because of its human rights record and judicial system.
Under its “one country, two systems” rule, Hong Kong was guaranteed the right to its own social, legal and political systems for 50 years following the end of British rule of the island in 1997.
However, some observers have said China’s ruling Communist Party has ignored that agreement by forcing passage of unpopular laws.
During the 2014 Umbrella Movement, parts of the city were shut down during 79 days of protests. The activists were protesting Chinese plans to restrict fully free elections in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong government considered the demonstrations illegal and moved to end them. The protests ended without any agreement between demonstrators and the government.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Press and VOA News. Caty Weaver was the editor.
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Words in This Story
extradition – n. the sending of someone back to the country where they are accused of a crime