Thousands of people gathered in Hong Kong on June 26, with phone flashlights lighting up the night, demanding the withdrawal of the Extradition Bill.
Thousands of flashlights lit Hong Kong’s Downtown Central Business district and Central Edinburgh square where the protesters peacefully gathered, Chanting “Withdraw the evil law!” and “Free Hong Kong! I want genuine democracy!”
Demonstrators marched to consulates of nations that will be represented at the upcoming G20 Summit in Japan.
“We hope the consulates of the 19 countries will relay this solemn appeal from the people of Hong Kong [to their governments],” one protester told the media.
Millions of people in Hong Kong have already protested in recent weeks against an extradition bill that would have allowed individuals, including foreigners, to be extradited to mainland China to face trial in courts controlled by the ruling Communist Party.
At the U.S. consulate, protesters handed out a petition asking President Donald Trump to “Back Hong Kong at the G20 Summit,” where he intends to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in hopes of relaxing trade tensions.
The flashlight protest started around 8 pm and included middle-aged and mostly younger people.
According to reports, such a large number of people came to show support that the streets and “the whole square was full, and even the nearby car parks were full.”
The majority of people sitting at Central Edinburgh square had their phones’ flashlights lit, chanting a line from the French Opera Song from Les Misérables: “Do you hear the people sing ?” The march peacefully ended at 10 pm.
A resident told Vision Times: “It was so impressive that HK people all behaved so well, no violence.” There was also no visible tension or aggression from the police.
A signal of pressure
According to a protest organizer who only gave media his surname, Lau, hopes were high that the protest would boost concern over the government’s planned amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.
“We think this is a crucial juncture because I believe that [officials] from the various countries will have a few questions for Xi Jinping when they meet with him and put pressure on China,” Lau said.
Another student named Wong said they made the decision to attend the march out of their own free will. “I decided to come out of my own accord,” Wong said. “Nobody made me do this. I did it based on my understanding of the whole affair, and not for money … because if we didn’t speak out, then other countries wouldn’t know anything about this extradition law.”
The mainland already signaled its intention to censor the whole topic from the G20 talks. China’s assistant foreign minister, Zhang Jun, allegedly said last week that Beijing won’t allow the topic to be raised at the G20 and warned foreign countries not to interfere in China’s internal affairs.
A moral question
The question most of us are urged to ask ourselves is whether voicing moral concerns is something that resembles solidarity to a cause, or if it is the duty of every rational being upholding the dignities, rights, and obligations of human rights.
The planned amendments are commonly seen as a threat to Hong Kong’s way of life, which, according to “one country, two systems,” is supposed to be protected.
Hong Kong was returned back to China by the former British colony under the framework of “one country, two systems” in 1997.
If passed, the new extradition law doesn’t only pose a human rights risk, but also endangers Hong Kong’s international reputation as a separate legal jurisdiction and a trading entity.
When seen in full context and the present Chinese law system’s “mentality,” journalists, visitors, rights activists, dissidents, democratic politicians, and members of the business community could become targeted for words and actions deemed illegal by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, and extradited to face trial in Chinese courts if the new law is passed in Hong Kong.
According to a participant in Wednesday’s “consulate crawl,” who only told media his surname, Chan: “As soon as these amendments are passed, any German nationals living in Hong Kong or even tourists and high-ranking business executives visiting here, could be treated exactly like Meng Wanzhou, and arrested and taken to China based on any excuse.”
A positive prospect
According to pro-democracy lawmakers, the only solution to end the recurring mass protests in Hong Kong is for the government to allow completely democratic elections.
The call for real democratic elections in Hong Kong was rejected by the Chinese Communist Party in 2014, sparking the Occupy Central, or Umbrella Movement.
The current protest wave in Hong Kong seems to be more than just an umbrella movement or a passing sentiment going out from the country’s youth.
Recent events have shown that Hong Kong’s lawyers have also come out in support of the protesters, saying that the extradition bill should be withdrawn completely, and not just postponed as was offered by the administration of Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
While all this took place, campaigners in Taiwan raised more than $700,000 through a crowdfunding platform on Tuesday to pay for the placing of advertisements in overseas newspapers on Thursday, to call on foreign governments to support Hong Kong at the G20.