Hong Kong Watch pays tribute to the courageous people of Hong Kong, and calls for “immediate, unequivocal and unconditional” withdrawal of extradition bill
Over two million people took to the streets of Hong Kong in peaceful protest today, according to organisers, calling for the complete withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill, despite the announcement yesterday that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam was suspending the legislation “indefinitely”. This is double the number that protested a week ago, when a million marched in Hong Kong, and follows the brutal police crackdown on 12 June, when largely peaceful protestors were hit by rubber bullets, teargas, pepper spray and batons.
In Parliament Square in London, a large group of demonstrators gathered in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong, organized by Democracy for Hong Kong (D4HK), and were addressed by the co-founder and Chair of Hong Kong Watch, Benedict Rogers, who began by telling the crowd: “The world hears Hong Kong.”
Mr Rogers added: “I pay tribute and I salute the amazing courage, the inspiring dignity, the incredible fortitude of the people of Hong Kong … who today were not cowed by the police brutality but who came out in even larger numbers. I want to salute the peaceful nature of the protests … I want to pay particular tribute to the mothers of Hong Kong – the real mothers of Hong Kong … who came out in large numbers in recent days and said ‘don’t shoot our kids’. I want to pay tribute to those who stood in large numbers peacefully singing – singing hymns, praying prayers, singing other songs …. And I want to pay tribute to the humour of the people of Hong Kong.”
In regard to the extradition bill, Mr Rogers said: “Suspending this bill, even if it’s indefinitely suspending it, is not good enough. As long as this bill is remotely on the table, it will undermine the rule of law in Hong Kong, it will destroy confidence in Hong Kong, it will create fear in Hong Kong. So the only way forward is to completely withdraw this bill unequivocally and unconditionally.” Acknowledging that there may be issues of how to proceed with justice for genuine crimes, Mr Rogers called for a “sensible consultation with legal experts, democrats and others on the right way forward to address genuine matters of justice, but withdraw this bill completely and unconditionally now.”
Mr Rogers called on the Hong Kong government “to ensure that the police are held accountable for the horrific scenes last week, the completely disproportionate and brutal use of force” and urged the authorities to stop describing the protests as “riots”. He urged the Hong Kong government not to prosecute protestors or, if there are grounds for prosecution, to consider using powers under the Basic Law to grant an amnesty.
“People in this country have not forgotten Hong Kong,” said Mr Rogers. “Over the last week at least six times Hong Kong was raised in both Houses of Parliament, in debates, urgent questions, in Prime Minister’s Questions. You have many friends in Parliament who are speaking out …. As the former Prime Minister Sir John Major said when he visited Hong Kong a year before the handover, the people of Hong Kong ‘will not have to walk alone’.”
For a full video of Benedict Rogers’ speech see: https://tinyurl.com/y5gkb6zt