Protesters bring multiple grievances to the streets.
Thousands of people opposed to a proposed extradition bill marched through Hong Kong on Sunday, a day after the government said it would postpone voting on the legislation.
Far from placating the protesters, the delay energized them and they expanded their list of demands. Among other things, demonstrators called on Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, to step down; condemned the police for the use of violent tactics; and called on the government to cease referring to the protests as “riots,” which could have serious legal ramifications for those who have been arrested.
Many people on Sunday carried photos of bloodied demonstrators or images of the police deploying pepper spray and signs that read “Don’t kill us.” Protesters said they also wanted to increase the pressure on Ms. Lam to withdraw the bill entirely.
The extradition legislation that prompted the outrage would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory, to be transferred for trial to mainland China, where the courts are controlled by the Communist Party.
“We don’t trust her at all, actually,” Phoebe Ng, 29, a demonstrator, said of Ms. Lam, whom many protesters have called on to resign.
A similar protest last Sunday drew more than a million people, organizers said, making it one of the largest demonstrations in the history of Hong Kong, a city of about seven million. On Wednesday, lawmakers were forced to postpone a scheduled debate when tens of thousands of protesters gathered outside the legislature. Some protesters who tried unsuccessfully to storm the building were met with tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets from riot police officers.
Extradition bill at center of protests is suspended, but not withdrawn.
In a remarkable reversal, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, said on Saturday that she would indefinitely suspend the bill.
[The bill’s suspension is China’s biggest political retreat under President Xi Jinping.]
Ms. Lam, who took over as Hong Kong’s leader in 2017 with the support of Beijing, had vowed to ensure the bill’s approval and tried to get it passed on an unusually short timetable, even as hundreds of thousands demonstrated against it last week.
[Carrie Lam is known for almost never backing down in a fight.]
As pressure mounted, even some pro-Beijing lawmakers said the measure should be delayed. While the suspension is a victory for Hong Kong protesters, Ms. Lam made it clear on Saturday that the bill was being delayed, not withdrawn outright. City leaders hope that delaying the legislation will cool public anger, but leading opposition figures and protesters say that is wishful thinking.
Man’s death adds to protesters’ anger.
Protesters were further galvanized on Sunday by the death of a man who the police say fell from a building after unfurling a protest banner that read, “No extradition to China.”
The man, whom the police identified as a 35-year-old with the surname Leung, had been perched for hours on the roof of an upscale mall near the Hong Kong government complex, where the protests have been concentrated. Shortly after 9 p.m., he climbed onto scaffolding on the side of the building as firefighters tried to rescue him, landing next to an inflatable air cushion that had been set up to catch him. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
The man had been wearing a yellow raincoat, on which slogans criticizing the police and Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, were written. Many of the protesters on Sunday carried white flowers as a sign of mourning.
“His sacrifice really does show that the government is still ignoring how the citizens, how the students feel,” said Anson Law, 17, a high school student who has participated in the protests. “The people want to show their will.”
By Sunday morning the site had turned into a makeshift memorial of incense, flowers and handwritten notes. “Death of one man, death of Hong Kong,” said one. A vigil is planned for 9 p.m.
The murder case used to justify the bill.
In pushing the extradition legislation, the Hong Kong government has cited the murder last year of a 20-year-old Hong Kong woman on vacation with her boyfriend in Taiwan, another jurisdiction with which Hong Kong has no extradition agreement.
The boyfriend, a 19-year-old also from Hong Kong, told the police that after an argument with the woman, who was pregnant, he strangled her, stuffed her body in a suitcase and dumped it near a subway station in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital.
Hong Kong officials said the extradition law was necessary for the man to be prosecuted in Taiwan, a self-governing island that is claimed by China. But officials in Taiwan, who have sided with Hong Kong protesters in opposing the extradition legislation, say they would not seek the man’s extradition even if it passed.
Reporting was contributed by Michael Ives, Tiffany May, Daniel Victor, Javier Hernandez, Russell Goldman, Gillian Wong and Jennifer Jett.