Thousands take to Hong Kong streets to protest new extradition laws
HONG KONG Tens of thousands of people marched on Hong Kong's Parliament yesterday to demand the scrapping of proposed extradition rules that would allow people to be sent to China for trial - a move that some fear will put the city's core freedoms at risk.
Opponents of the proposal fear further erosion of rights and legal protections in the free-wheeling financial hub.
Ranks of marchers snaked peacefully through the shopping and business districts of Causeway Bay and Wanchai for three hours, with thousands staying on into the evening outside the Legislative Council and government headquarters.
Police said 22,800 people marched at the peak of the procession, but organisers estimated 130,000 turned out - making it one of the largest street protests in the city for several years.
Veteran activist and former legislator Leung Kwok-hung said the government's move risked removing Hong Kongers' "freedom from fear".
"Hong Kong people and visitors passing by Hong Kong will lose their right not to be extradited into China," he said.
"They would need to face an unjust legal system on the mainland."
Some younger marchers said they were worried about travelling to China after the move, which comes just as the government encouraged young people to deepen ties with China.
The marchers' chanted demands for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down echoed through the high-rise streets.
The proposed changes have sparked an unusually broad chorus of concern from international business elites to lawyers and rights' groups and even some pro-establishment figures. - REUTERS