Around 200 protesters gathered outside Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng’s office in Central on Thursday, demanding she agrees to their demands over the city’s controversial extradition bill.

Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

They demanded the government withdraw the bill entirely; release all arrested protesters unconditionally; retract the characterisation of the June 12 protest as a”riot,” and form an independent investigation into alleged police abuses. They also demanded Cheng come out to speak to them.

Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

“No extradition law. Release protesters. We are not rioters. Condemn police violence,” they chanted. Many of the protesters were young people wearing black.

Thursday’s gathering came after a series of demonstrations this week. On Wednesday, anti-extradition law demonstrators visited 19 foreign consulates to submit petition letters ahead of the G20 on Friday in Osaka, Japan. That evening, thousands attended a pro-democracy rally in Central organised by the Civil Human Rights Front. Towards the end of the night, thousands of activists surrounded the Wan Chai police headquarters before dispersing in the early hours of Thursday.

At the Department of Justice, Ricky Wong, a first-year student at a local university, told HKFP that he had attended several of the protests over the past week, including the rally on Wednesday night.

“I believe our demands will be clearer if we make them outside the Department of Justice,” he said.

Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

“At least we are making a noise so that the international community will be concerned about the situation.”

A protester who gave her name as Cheung was holding a sign that read “special amnesty.”

Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

“Even if some protesters may have gone too far, they should be given amnesty. After all, it was the government who did the wrong thing first,” Cheung, who works in the cultural sector, said.

She said Hong Kong people should unite and fight untill the government responds to their demands.

Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

“If they don’t try to achieve something now, we know that the Communist Party will retaliate,” she said.

Protesters gathered at Cheng’s office at 10am on Thursday. However, many were unable to get near to the main entrance as police formed a line to check the identities and search the bags of all protesters wearing masks.

Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

At around 10:30am, activist Nathan Law of political group Demosisto led around 70 protesters to walk up to the main entrance, and the police had to let them go as it was not possible to check protesters.

The government proposed legal amendments in February that would enable the chief executive and local courts to handle case-by-case fugitive transfer requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements, most notably China. Critics have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland, which lacks human rights protections.

The bill was suspended after mass protests, but the government has refused to withdraw it entirely, with Chief Executive Carrie Lam last seen in public last Tuesday.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.