Over one million protestors have taken to the streets in Hong Kong over the government’s extradition bill.
Why are they so angry?
Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, is attempting to ram a law through the legislative council that would allow the government to extradite individuals residing in the city to China at the request of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
Even though the United Kingdom handed the city of Hong Kong back to China in 1997, a deal was struck to maintain the independence of Hong Kong’s legal and political institutions for at least 50 years.
Hong Kongers see this new extradition law as a violation of that agreement – and the famed umbrellas from the 2014 pro-democracy demonstrations have reappeared as one-seventh of the city’s population continue the week-long protests.
Despite the magnitude of the protests, the Hong Kong government is refusing to back down and has ordered police to subdue the crowds.
Police have used tear gas and rubber bullets to try and control the massive crowds.
It’s for these reasons that the Australian government is advising individuals against travelling to Hong Kong.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has stated on its website that “Australia supports the right of people to protest peacefully and to exercise their freedom of speech” and that Australians in Hong Kong “should avoid large public gatherings”.
Five years ago Hong Kong made international headlines for the “Umbrella Protests”.
In 2014, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers armed with umbrellas took to the streets after Beijing’s involvement in the process of appointing the chief executive, who is not directly elected by the people but appointed by an electoral council.
Those protests lasted months and ended when the ringleaders – young university students – handed themselves in to the government, receiving prison sentences in turn.