Six student unions have said they will escalate protest actions if the government does not respond to their demands over the controversial extradition law by 5pm Thursday.
They have asked the authorities to axe the extradition bill, withdraw their characterisation of last Wednesday’s clashes as a “riot”, drop all charges against protesters and investigate cases of alleged police brutality.
The six groups include the student unions of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Science and Technology, Education University, City University, Academy for Performing Arts, Hang Seng University and the Federation of Students.
They said that, if the demands are not met, they will urge residents to rally outside government headquarters on Friday. They also said they would support other, “non-cooperative action” conducted by others.
Similar calls for actions were shared as posters on social media via mass Telegram chat groups.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam has personally apologised for causing divisions in society over the now-postponed extradition bill. But So Tsun-fung, head of the Chinese University of Hong Kong student union, said Lam’s apology was not sincere.
“People inside the government have been shifting blame and responsibility,” So said at a Wednesday press conference. “Principal officials such as Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng have yet to come and give a response to the public.”
Hong Kong has seen the largest protests in its history amid government plans to update the city’s extradition laws to cover territories with which there are no prior agreements. Introduced in February in response to a Taiwan murder, the bill would have allowed case-by-case fugitive transfers to other jurisdictions – such as China – without legislative oversight. The plan prompted a chorus of criticism from democrats, lawyers, journalists, foreign politicians and businesses, who say the mainland lacks human rights protections.
July 1 focus
The Civil Human Rights Front – organisers of Sunday’s “two-million-strong” demonstration – said their coalition will join peaceful rallies, commemoration events for a protester who died, and prepare for the annual pro-democracy July 1 march.
Jimmy Sham, convener of the Front, said they will only join peaceful actions, urging residents to stay in the city ahead of July 1, in case of further protests.
“We will support other residents who join voluntary action,” he said.
Pro-democracy camp convener and lawmaker Claudia Mo said she hoped students “will not bleed, will not be arrested, will not sacrifice themselves” during any upcoming action.
She said lawmakers will monitor the demonstration to prevent the police from using excessive violence.
Both Sham and Mo said their camp will launch street booths to further explain the controversy and urge residents to sign a petition. They will also urge residents to register as voters ahead of the July 2 deadline.
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