Warning of more protests to come against Hong Kong government’s controversial extradition bill
- Organising group says it expects 300,000 people at Sunday’s demonstration, and asks marchers to turn up in white
- Local lawyers also expected to march against the legal amendments, on Thursday
An upcoming major protest against the government’s extradition bill may not be the last before legislators decide the proposal’s fate, the organiser has warned.
The Civil Human Rights Front, a platform for 50 pro-democracy groups, revealed its plan on Wednesday, as it urged protesters to dress in white and be prepared for a long march on Sunday from Victoria Park, Causeway Bay to the Legislative Council in Admiralty, which it estimates 300,000 people will attend.
But the group said it did not plan to take any radical action at the event, where it will deploy more than 100 volunteers to maintain order.
The controversial bill, if passed, would allow the transfer of fugitives to jurisdictions Hong Kong lacks an extradition deal with, including mainland China and Taiwan.
Officials say the bill is needed to plug legal loopholes and allow the transfer of a Hongkonger wanted over the killing of his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan. But critics say the proposal would be used to extradite Hong Kong dissidents to the mainland, where they say a fair trial is not guaranteed.
The protest on Sunday will follow a silent march organised by members of the legal sector on Thursday, and comes three days before the bill is scheduled for a second reading before being put to a vote at the Legislative Council.
Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, the front’s convenor, Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, said that while it was aiming for a big turnout on Sunday, there was no plan to escalate it that day.
“The most important escalation is not in the form of action, but in turnout,” Sham said.
He said members were confident they could maintain order during the protest, but he did not make clear what they would do should some protesters break off after the march and take more radical action.
Sham said the front would organise another mass action before the bill was put to a vote, but did not give further details.
The front earlier said it planned to mobilise people against the bill to “surround Legco”.
One of the organisers, legal sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok of the pro-democracy Civic Party, declined to comment on the expected turnout.
A similar march in 2016 drew about 2,000.
Lawyers will march from the Court of Final Appeal to government headquarters.
A local deputy to the National People’s Congress, Brave Chan Yung, refused to comment on the possible turnout at Sunday’s protest, but said: “It is not a numbers game. We also organised a signature campaign in support of the bill and we collected more than 540,000 names. Is it not a big number?”
Chan is the acting executive chairman of the Hong Kong Celebrations Association, which is organising a series of events to mark the 22nd anniversary of the city’s handover from British to Chinese rule.
The association will host a three-day fair in Victoria Park from June 29 – which will clash with the annual July 1 march, where opposition to the bill is set to feature.