A group of anti-extradition law activists in Admiralty have been on hunger strike for more than 180 hours, with pro-democracy lawmaker Fernando Cheung also joining the protest.
Last Wednesday, Roy Chan – a preacher at the Good Neighbourhood North District Church – began the hunger strike, which has since evolved into a ten-person protest. Participants are aged between 16 and 73.
Chan said no government officials had visited them during the week. He said the government has not been trying to communicate with the public, nor have they agreed to their demands. They are calling for a complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, the formation of an independent commission of inquiry into police behaviour, the retraction of the “riot” characterisation of the June 12 protests, and an unconditional release of all arrested protesters.
“Our hunger strike action is not calling for self-harm. Our hunger strike action is a classic protest to [call on people to] care about each other and defend each other,” he said.
Chan said doctors examine the status of hunger strikers three times a day, but he expects that the first batch of participants will not be able to continue for much longer. He said there were two to three others who were willing to step in and carry on with the hunger strike, once the first batch end theirs.
The extradition bill would allow the city to handle case-by-case fugitive transfers to jurisdictions with no prior arrangements, including China. Critics have said residents are at risk of extradition to the mainland, which lacks human rights protections. Large-scale protests since June have since morphed into wider displays of dissent over dwindling freedoms, democracy, alleged police brutality and other community grievances. On Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam declared the bill “dead,” but did not enact any mechanism to withdraw it or agree to step down.
The oldest hunger striker, Mr Chan – who is 73 – wore a hat that said “hunger strike for democracy and justice” when meeting reporters on Wednesday night.
In terms of their aims, he said he wanted to share the message of protesting without self-sacrifice.
“We will have to protest for a long time, and it’s not just a business of ‘one day.’ That is why we need to treasure our lives, protect ourselves and protest against this unjust and apathetic government,” he said.
Doctors allowed him to drink milk when his blood sugar level was dangerously low.
Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung joined the strike on Wednesday night.
He said he did not think the action would be effective since the participants were not important enough for the government to care, and so he decided to join spontaneously: “This is like a pier inside a storm, a place where we can meet our friends, a place with moral calling,” he said.