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Posts tagged as “extradition”

Protests in Hong Kong Continue after Withdrawal of the Extradition Bill; Where Does It End?

Despite the withdrawal of the extradition bill, the protests in Hong Kong are continuing, as we expected. The protesters have adopted “Five Demands, Not One Less” as one of their slogans. They will not be satisfied with the easy half-measures taken by the HK government. Beijing and Carrie Lam’s leadership still don’t understand the movement. If they thought that just withdrawing the bill would end the protests, they were badly mistaken – again.

Protesters are now demanding accountability for the police that stormed subway stations last week, indiscriminately beating and pepper-spraying passengers that were not resisting, without ever even attempting to identify whether or not they were involved in the protests. Regardless of whether any of the passengers were involved in any protests – even if they had committed crimes – the police do not have the right to beat and pepper spray anyone that is not resisting. The protesters demand for accountability for police brutality – and there have been numerous instances of it documented clearly on video – is entirely reasonable. MTR, the company that operates the commuter trains in Hong Kong, must release the video captured on security cameras in the subway stations. Why refuse? Are they afraid that the video will reveal just how brutal and out of control the police were that day? Are they protecting the police? If not, then release the raw, unedited video. You can bet that if the video showed that the police acted reasonably, it would be released immediately. MTR’s refusal to release it shows that the HK government has something to hide. The protesters skepticism towards an “investigation” conducted by any agency or organization associated with the government, like the IPCC, is well-founded. The HK police have already tried to whitewash, justify, and coverup the brutality that was been committed by their comrades (we use the word intentionally).

More, um, enthusiastic members of the protest movement have continued to vandalize train stations and other infrastructure and to aggressively confront the police. We understand their thinking that peaceful protest is ineffective. They may even be correct. But without a doubt, the CCP propaganda machine will (continue) to do their best to turn public opinion against the protesters. The pro-democracy movement must be careful not to lose its base of support. On the other hand, the CCP’s pet media has been painting the movement as violent and unreasonable from the beginning, so it actually may not make any difference in that respect.

Either way, we hate to see violence continuing in Hong Kong. Many people have been injured, some quite seriously. One of the things that motivates the protesters targeting of MTR and demanding release of the security camera video from the train stations is their belief that some protesters were murdered by the police. After seeing video of the vicious beatings perpetrated by the police on the protesters, it is easy to understand why they think some might have been killed. But to be fair, some protesters have also attacked police when they’ve had a tactical advantage. We hope that both sides would step back from violent confrontations.

The question that remains, of course, is what is the end-game? Will Beijing back down, and allow for free and fair, truly democratic elections, in Hong Kong? It is exceedingly unlikely. Will the Hong Kong government allow for an in-depth, independent investigation of the Hong Kong police? Doubtful – but perhaps not completely out of the question. Will the protesters that have been arrested be released without charges? Carrie Lam said no, so probably not. Will Carrie Lam resign? She has said she won’t, but given that she has said she would like to, it is possible.

Where, and how, does it end?

Extradition Bill Withdrawn. What’s Next?

So, as we reported last night, the extradition bill that was the initial impetus for the protests in Hong Kong has been withdrawn by Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam.

That’s excellent news, but where does that leave the protest movement? Let’s take a look.

Of the Five Demands that the protesters have made, one has been met. What about the others? Here is what we know right now about any progress in meeting them.

  • An independent investigation into the actions of the police. In a press conference, Lam did address this, saying that the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Council) will investigate. Protesters have criticized the IPCC as being dominated by pro-government members, doubting that the investigation will be independent. It is unlikely that an IPPC investigation will be acceptable to pro-democracy protesters.
  • Stop characterizing the protests as “riots.” This demand is important because if the protests are called “riots” and the protesters are called “rioters” then those that were arrested during the protests face more serious charges and harsher punishment. We have not seen or heard anything from the HK government regarding this demand.
  • Release of all protesters that have been arrested and dropping of all charges against them. Again, we have not seen or heard anything regarding this demand. [UPDATE: Lam said in her press conference, “we cannot accept letting criminals go under the existing legal system.” So, the HK government will not accept this demand.
  • Resignation of Carrie Lam and universal suffrage for the Hong Kong people for chief executive and other legislative and government positions. Nothing has been formally said about this, either, but it would not be at all surprising if Carrie Lam steps down soon. [UPDATE: however, in her press conference, Lam said, “My personal stance has made known for months, my team and I will remain and will tackle the problems, with the priority on stopping violence.”] As for the demand for universal suffrage, we regard this as the most important of the protesters’ demands for Hong Kong’s future, and the one least likely to be acceptable to Beijing.

Withdrawal of the extradition bill is an important first step toward a free and prosperous Hong Kong, but it is by no means the end of the road. Many pro-Beijing, business, and establishment leaders will say that the reason for the protests has been removed, so the pro-democracy movement should stop the protests, and Hong Kong should return to “normal.” The CCP state-run media will portray any continuing protests as unreasonable (well, they’ve portrayed the protests as violent and unreasonable all along). The pro-democracy movement should continue to protests for all of their demands to be met, but they must do so carefully, being mindful of public opinion. Right now, the protesters have broad support, both within Hong Kong and internationally. Loss of that support will hand Beijing the final victory, even if the protesters won the initial fight over the extradition bill.

Hong Kong Extradition Bill to be Formally Withdrawn

This is incredibly important, if it is true. The Hong Kong Free Press is reporting that Carrie Lam will formally withdraw the extradition bill. This bill is the initial cause of the protests that have convulsed Hong Kong for over three months.

If the bill is formally withdrawn, the Hong Kong government will meet one of the five primary demands of the protesters, and it could pave the way for negotiations on the other four of the protesters’ five demands.

That said, if the bill is withdrawn, look for Beijing and the HK government to pressure the protesters to relent. If the protests continue anyway, many people, both in Hong Kong and internationally, will tend to view the protesters as unreasonable. The protest movement must play this very carefully, or they will lose the public support that they currently enjoy. Beijing may be counting on more radical elements in the protest movement to overplay their hand, alienating their base of support. That must not happen if the protest movement wants to effect lasting change in Hong Kong.

In any case, if the bill is withdrawn, it does appear to be a victory for the protest movement – but let’s not celebrate too early. This is an early report, and it is likely that Beijing has other plans in effect to disperse and blunt the effect of the protest movement.

Why is Hong Kong’s Extradition Bill Such a Big Deal?

For people that have been following the protests in Hong Kong, but perhaps not closely, they may have heard that the protests began because of an “extradition bill” that was introduced by the Hong Kong government. That bill (an amendment to Hong Kong’s “Basic Law”) would allow people accused of some crimes to be extradited to mainland China to face trial.

So, why is that a big deal? Lots of countries have extradition treaties with other countries, right?Those of us living in countries where the legal system is (usually) fair and impartial, where our rights are guaranteed by a constitution or in the law may have trouble understanding why the Hong Kong people have been fighting and protesting so hard against that bill. Is it really worth all of the violence and mayhem that Hong Kong has endured for so long?

A Financial Times article demonstrates exactly why so many Hong Kongers believe it is.

[Australian citizen] Yang Hengjun has been held in China since January, when he disappeared in the southern city of Guangzhou, as his wife and child awaited visas to travel to Australia.

Marise Payne, Australia’s foreign minister, said the government was “very concerned and disappointed” to learn of Mr Yang’s formal arrest and criticised the harsh conditions he has been held in for seven months without charge.

“Since that time, China has not explained the reasons for Dr Yang’s detention, nor has it allowed him access to his lawyers or family visits,” she said. “I respectfully reiterate my previous requests that if Dr Yang is being held for his political beliefs, he should be released.”

Under Chinese law, the penalties for espionage include imprisonment or the death penalty.

Financial Times – emphasis by China Daily News

This is China’s “legal” system. They seize citizens of other countries that disagree with their policies with impunity, hold them for months without contact with their families or lawyers and without charging them. And when they do finally charge them, the charges are clearly politically motivated and for crimes that could result in the death penalty. It would be ridiculous if it weren’t so despicable and horrendous.

No one should think for a second that the CCP is in any way some sort of “benign dictatorship,” just wanting to grow their economy and make their citizens happy. No. As long as you toe the party line, you probably are fine, but if you dare criticize them, you are in danger.

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