Hong Kong protesters vow to keep fighting extradition law
HONG KONG (AP) :
Following a day of sit-ins, tear gas and clashes with police, Hong Kong students and civil rights activists vowed yesterday to keep protesting a proposed extradition bill that has become a lightning rod for concerns over greater Chinese control and erosion of civil liberties in the former British colony.
The violence marked a major escalation of the biggest political crisis in years for the semi-autonomous Chinese territory and forced the delay of legislative debate on the contentious bill.
College student Louis Wong said he considered the blockade of government headquarters and the Legislative Council a success because it appeared to prevent Beijing loyalists from advancing amendments to a pair of laws that would make it easier to send suspected criminals to China.
“This is a public space and the police have no right to block us from staying here,” Wong said, surveying a garbage-strewn intersection in the Admiralty neighbourhood that had been blocked off by security forces after protesters broke through a police cordon and entered the government complex.
“We’ll stay until the government drops this law and (Chinese President) Xi Jinping gives up on trying to turn Hong Kong into just another city in China like Beijing and Shanghai,” he said.
Police fired tear gas and used pepper spray on protesters who had massed outside the government building overnight Tuesday and began pressing against the police early Wednesday.
The overwhelmingly young crowd had overflowed on to a major downtown road as they overturned barriers and tussled with police. But when some appeared to have breached a cordon around the building, the police launched their response.
At a brief news conference held as the chaos swirled just outside, Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung said the “serious clashes” forced police to use pepper spray, bean bag rounds, rubber bullets, and tear gas. He added that police were still counting how many people were injured.
Officers were also hurt, some seriously, by rocks, bottles, traffic cones, metal barricades and other items thrown by protesters.