Thousands of students from more than 80 secondary schools in Hong Kong have signed joint petitions opposing the proposed amendments to the city’s extradition law.
The controversial bill would allow suspects in Hong Kong to be taken to the mainland or other places which do not have an extradition agreement with the city at present.
The government presented the bill after Taiwanese authorities were unable to extradite Hongkonger Chan Tong-kai. He is accused of killing his girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, in Taipei last year, then fleeing home.
Despite concerns about human rights and unfair prosecution in other jurisdictions, especially on the mainland, the Hong Kong government has not revised the bill. The second reading of the bill will resume in the Legislative Council on June 12.
Starting on Monday, a group of alumni from secondary schools across Hong Kong launched a joint online signature campaign to gather support from those opposing the fugitive bill, and urge people to attend a second protest against the law, which will be held on June 9. At the last count on Tuesday evening, 82 schools were involved and thousands of students, alumni and teaching staff had signed the petition.
“How can the government seek justice for the victim, when it does not respond promptly to the request by the Taiwanese government regarding the murder case in Taiwan? It is only trying to change the law forcefully in the name of justice,” read a statement by graduates and teachers of St Stephen’s College, where the murder victim, Poon, graduated from.
The Mainland Affairs Council of Taiwan stated on May 9 that, even if the fugitive bill is passed, Taiwan will not accept Chan. This is because under the new law, Taiwanese citizens could be sent to the mainland.
Wong Cheuk-ning, a Form Six student at Heep Yunn School, is among those who signed her school’s joint statement. By taking part in the campaign, she said she hoped to show she was worried the law will jeopardise the city’s core values, such as human rights, freedom of speech, and democracy, which may lead to a “One Country, One System” in Hong Kong.
“The only thing we can do is to voice our opinions. The march last month didn’t seem to change the government's stance, so I hope our concerns can be heard through the petition this time,” said the 17-year-old.