HONG KONG – Some supporters of the controversial extradition bill on Friday urged the Hong Kong government to temporarily suspend the measure in order to diffuse the ongoing political crisis, even as hundreds of protesters returned to the streets in a protest called by the group Hong Kong Mothers.
Friday’s protest was attended by around 500 people – many of them mothers of protesters injured when the police charged them on Wednesday – carrying ribbons and carnation flowers and urging the police to “stop shooting” their children and “return Hong Kong to people.”
“Carrie Lam – the chief executive – said that she would support the youth when she was elected and look what she is doing,” Tina Luk, one of the mothers present at the sit-in told Efe. She has become something of an icon for standing up to officers and telling them to hit her first before beating the protesting youngsters.
“I found strength because of my own responsibility as a mother, I was not afraid, it was a natural instinct, I wanted to help them,” Tina added.
University professor Susanne Choi, one of the organizers of the march, said more than 70 people had been injured in violence during the protest and the mothers would not sit silent if they see “youth beaten up and covered in blood.”
On the other end of the political spectrum, a member of Hong Kong’s Executive Council, Bernard Chan, on Friday advised Lam to evaluate the situation generated by the protest, telling a local radio station it was impossible to discuss the bill in light of the “massive conflict” between the police and protesters
“The government must consider what to do next, such as whether it needs to provide more explanations or consultations on the bill, so that confrontations do not worsen,” Chan said
He acknowledged having underestimated the reaction of the business community over the controversial legislation, which would allow the extradition of fugitives to territories that do not have an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, including mainland China.
Opponents of the bill say it would allow China to target political dissidents.
Meanwhile, 22 former government officials also urged Lam to withdraw the bill in a statement.
“A deeply divided society, serious concerns of the international community – are these the sacrifices to be made to satisfy the will of the Chief Executive? What great public interest is supposed to be served by the hurried passage of this Bill? Where will this escalation of force (by police) to suppress protests lead Hong Kong?” the statement said.
They also urged the lawmakers constituting the majority in the legislature to vote against the bill and take the opinion on the street to Lam, and even resign if they were not heard.
Michael Tien, a lawmaker from the pro-Beijing organization Roundtable, also publicly urged for the extradition bill to be delayed.
Police officers remained on guard outside the legislative council building as protesters called on commuters to interrupt subway services, students to miss class and office workers to go on strike.
In the opposite camp, pro-Beijing demonstrators gathered outside the US consulate and accused the superpower of inciting protests in Hong King.
“The United States had undermined Hong Kong’s system and interfered with our internal affairs,” Real Hongkongers’ View spokesman Jason Lam said. “It was a clear disregard of facts.”
“I am worried Hong Kong will become a battleground for the trade war,” Lam added. “What they are doing would not only mess Hong Kong up, but also damage US citizens’ interests.”
Along those same lines, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Friday urged US officials to “respect the facts, set aside the prejudices and stop interfering.”
“China is determined to defend its sovereignty and interests, we are not afraid of any threat, any attempt to create chaos and undermine the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong will be opposed by the Chinese, including Hong Kong compatriots,” he added.
China’s deputy foreign minister, Le Yucheng, summoned the second-most senior official at the US embassy in China, Robert Forden, to explain Washington’s “irresponsible comments” in the wake of the Hong Kong crisis.
“China does not accept foreign forces meddling in Hong Kong affairs, we are resolutely opposed to these kinds of prejudiced comments that go against US interests,” Le said in a statement.