Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong walked free from prison on Monday (June 17) after serving nearly five weeks for contempt of court, pledging to join a mass protest movement demanding that the city’s Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, to step down.
His release comes a day after organizers of the protest calling for Lam to quit over a controversial extradition bill said almost two million black-clad people joined Sunday’s march to government offices.
“Millions of Hong Kong people joined the demonstration and protest within the past few weeks. It shows the spirit and dignity of Hong Kong people. What we ask for is to urge Carrie Lam the evil chief executive should withdraw the extradition amendment,” he said.
“And what we are trying to do is just through civil disobedience and direct action and let the whole world, let the international communities to realize that how Hong Kong people will not keep silence under the suppression of President Xi and the Chief Executive Carrie Lam,” he added.
Wong continued with: “Carrie Lam must step down, otherwise I believe in the next few weeks before the 22 anniversary of Hong Kong transfer of sovereignty, more and more Hong Kong people not only one million or two million people will come and join our fight until the day we get back our basic human rights and freedom.”
Before he was jailed, both Wong, 22, and his supporters had called for the Hong Kong government to scrap the extradition proposal.
Wong who was one of the leaders of the 2014 “Umbrella” pro-democracy protests that blocked major roads in the Chinese-ruled city for 79 days presenting China’s Communist Party rulers in Beijing with one of their biggest political challenges in decades.
While Lam delayed the bill at the weekend, it has yet to be completely shelved, despite widespread concern that the status of Hong Kong as a financial hub could be eroded by changes to the rule of law. (REUTERS)
Hong Kong police fired live rounds Monday morning, hitting at least one protester, amid a citywide strike and widespread chaos.
Shortly before 8 am local time (00:00 GMT), witness videos emerged of a police officer firing his gun amid a scuffle on a busy street in the middle-class residential area of Sai Wan Ho, where a group of protesters was blocking traffic.
In a video captured by Cupid News, the officer was first seen running across a road, apparently giving chase, before he stopped and started to walk back. In a sudden move, he turned around, took out his gun and grabbed a young man in white hoodie wearing a mask.
The young man struggled and the officer then appeared to fire a shot at close range into the stomach of an approaching black-clad masked man who dropped to the ground. In footage less clear, bystanders confronted the officer who then fired two more shots, with another person dropping to the ground.
The Hospital Authority confirmed to EFE on Monday afternoon that a 21-year-old man who sustained a gunshot wound was in critical condition. Local media reported the authority as saying another man was seriously injured.
“During Police operations, one Police officer has discharged his service revolver, one male was shot,” police confirmed in a statement.
It added that officers had drawn their weapons in two other locations, but denied “false and malicious” reports that “police management has ordered frontline officers to recklessly use their firearms.”
The proposed citywide strike on Monday was called for by angry anti-government netizens after the death on Friday of 22-year-old university student Alex Chow Tsz-lok. He fell from a height in a car park on Nov. 3 and suffered serious brain injuries under circumstances that are still unclear.
Chaos continued to escalate in the former British colony as the strike brought traffic chaos to various parts of the city during rush hour.
Police were out in force early, with riot officers deployed to various districts. Following the shooting incident, an angry crowd gathered in Sai Wan Ho and shouted “murderers” at the police who cordoned off and guarded roads in the area.
The police statement said that protesters had set up barricades across multiple locations, dropped “large and heavy objects from heights to carriageways” and “threw a petrol bomb into the MTR compartment and vandalized university facilities.”
At around 8.30 am, riot police reportedly entered the campus of Polytechnic University and fired teargas at protesters.
Teargas was also reportedly fired near the campus of the University of Hong Kong on Hong Kong Island and the Chinese University of Hong Kong in the New Territories.
Classes were suspended in at least two universities, namely Shue Yan University and Polytechnic University.
At some metro stations, activists jammed trains and prevented train doors from closing. Many roads were blocked by makeshift barricades erected by black-clad men who came and went quickly. Various metro stations were closed while train services were delayed. – EFE-EPA (Shirley Lau)
China’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday (October 23) that the Financial Times report on plans for replacing Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam was a political rumor with ulterior motives.
Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the comments at a daily news briefing in Beijing saying, “This is a political rumor that has ulterior motives.”
“The central government will staunchly support chief executive Carrie Lam and the government of the special administrative region’s governing in accordance with the law and bringing about an end to the violence and chaos as soon as possible and return to order,” the official added.
The FT reported that China was drawing up a plan to replace Hong Kong leader Lam with an “interim” chief executive, citing people briefed on the deliberations.
Hong Kong’s legislature on Wednesday (October 23) formally withdrew planned legislation that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China, but the move was unlikely to end months of unrest as it met just one of five demands of pro-democracy protesters. (Reuters)
Pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong heckled the city’s embattled leader and called for her to step down on Thursday (October 17) during a legislative session that was repeatedly suspended as several politicians were manhandled out of the chamber.
It was the second day of chaos in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council as leader Carrie Lam tried to answer questions about her annual policy address, which she was forced to deliver by video link on Wednesday (October 16) after similar disruptions in the assembly.
Lam, who is backed by China’s government, announced measures on Wednesday to tackle the city’s chronic housing shortage in her address after she was jeered in the chamber. Again, on Thursday, pro-democracy lawmakers shouted for Lam to resign, saying she had blood on her hands.
They also called on her to address protesters’ key demands – something her policy address largely ignored.
About a dozen members of the assembly were ejected, shouting and waving placards as security guards marched them out. (Reuters)
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