Extradition Bill formally withdrawn, but protests in Hong Kong unlikely to end

The rallying cry of the protesters has been "five demands, not one less", meaning that yesterday's withdrawal of the Bill makes no difference.
The rallying cry of the protesters has been "five demands, not one less", meaning that yesterday's withdrawal of the Bill makes no difference.PHOTO: NYTIMES

HONG KONG • Hong Kong's legislature has formally withdrawn planned legislation that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, but the move is unlikely to end months of unrest as it meets just one of the five demands of pro-democracy protesters.

The rallying cry of the protesters, who have trashed public buildings in the Chinese-ruled city, set street fires and thrown petrol bombs at the police, has been "five demands, not one less", meaning that yesterday's withdrawal of the Bill makes no difference.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam had said many times the Bill was as good as dead, and added that other demands, including universal suffrage and amnesty for all those charged with rioting, were beyond her control.

Protesters are also calling for her to stand down and for an independent inquiry into perceived police brutality during a long hot summer of running battles on the streets.

"There aren't any big differences between suspension and withdrawal (of the extradition Bill)... It is too little, too late," said 27-year-old protester Connie, hours before the Bill was withdrawn.

"There are still other demands the government needs to meet, especially the problem of police brutality," she added.

Most protesters do not give their full names to avoid being identified.

Police have responded to the violence with water cannon and firing tear gas, rubber bullets and several live rounds at protesters.

Demonstrators are angry at what they see as Beijing encroaching on the former British colony's "one country, two systems" formula enshrined during the handover in 1997, which permits the city wide-ranging freedoms not available on the mainland, such as an independent judiciary.

 

The protests were triggered by the extradition Bill that would have allowed defendants charged with serious crimes to be sent for trial elsewhere, including to Communist Party-controlled courts in China.

REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2019, with the headline 'Extradition Bill formally withdrawn, but protests unlikely to end'. Print Edition | Subscribe