Hong Kong protests: What are the 'five demands'? What do protesters want?

The demonstrations have gone from protesting the fugitive bill to pressing for universal suffrage, and inquiries into alleged police brutality

Wong Tsui-kai |
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Anti-extradition bill protesters march from the Victoria Park in Causeway Bay towards Central after they attended an assembly against police brutality at Victoria Park.

At the current Hong Kong protests, asking people there why they are protesting will nearly always get you the same answer: the five demands.

These are:

1 Full withdrawal of the extradition bill

The proposed extradition bill would have allowed for courts in other places, such as China and Taiwan, to ask for criminals to be handed over. The protests started over a general mistrust of the Chinese legal system. 

Currently, the government has declared the bill “dead” and insists all work has stopped on the bill. But protesters demand the formal rules of withdrawing a bill be followed in the Legislative Council. 

On September 4, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor pledged to officially withdraw the law. 

Tear gas, civil disobedience, doxxing and more: a glossary of terms from the Hong Kong anti-government protests

2 A commission of inquiry into alleged police brutality

On June 12, police dispersed protesters outside Legco with what protesters say is excessive force. They have criticised these actions ever since. Protesters also have little confidence in the current police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Council.

3 Retracting the classification of protesters as “rioters”

Shortly after June 12, when protesters surrounded Legco and forced the second reading of the fugitive bill to be stopped, the Chief Executive, and the Commissioner of Police Stephen Lo Wai-chung used the term "rioters" to describe protesters, which is a crime that can be punished by up to 10 years in prison. 

A timeline of events in the 2019 Hong Kong protests

4 Amnesty for arrested protesters

So far as of November, more than 5,800 protesters have been arrested in connection with the anti-extradition bill protests so far, charged with crimes ranging from illegal assembly and assaulting police to rioting and arson. 

5 Dual universal suffrage, meaning for both the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive

At the moment, only half the seats in Legco - the body which makes the city's laws - are directly elected by voters. The other 35 seats are from "functional" constituencies, an elected according to professions or trades. But this means that corporationsand selected voters get to vote for the representative in their particular sector.

Hong Kong extradition law: Controversial fugitive bill explained

The Chief Executive is elected by a 1,200-member commitee. Of those, 900 are representatives of different sectors of business, only elected by voters in that business. Of the 300 remaining members of the committee, 70 are members of the Legislative Council and others are representatives to the Chinese National People's Congress. 

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