Stunning pictures taken from the sky reveal how hundreds of thousands of protesters have jammed the streets of Hong Kong to rally against a proposed extradition bill.
The huge densely-packed crowd has been walking slowly through the city shouting the words ‘withdraw’ and resign’ in an attempt to force the government to throw out the bill.
It would allow extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China, and was delayed on Saturday after several mass protests this week.
The crowds, marching towards the Central district where the government headquarters is located, carried banners demanding that chief executive Carrie Lam resign and drop the legislation completely instead of just suspending it.
An earlier march brought as many as a million people out to express their concern over increased influence from mainland China over the former British colony.
The Hong Kong government today issued an apology over its handling of the politically-charged legislation that sparked the massive protests.
Many of those on the march today wore black and lined up to pay their respects at a makeshift memorial for a man who fell to his death on Saturday after hanging a protest banner that read in part, ‘Make Love, No Shoot’ and ‘No Extradition to China’.
The man slipped from the grasp of rescuers after clinging for a time to scaffolding outside a shopping centre.
He missed a big cushion set up to capture him, and was declared dead at a nearby hospital.
Protesters also carried placards that read ‘the students did not riot’, in response to police labelling Wednesday’s student protests a riot – an offence punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
Chloe Yim, 20, who had joined the protests for the first time, said: ‘If Carrie Lam sees so many people come out, and still doesn’t listen – she’s being an autocrat who doesn’t listen to people.
‘Hong Kong people can’t accept that.’
Pro-democracy activists are calling for a general strike on Monday despite the decision to suspend work on the legislation.
Some labour unions, teachers associations and other groups are planning boycotts of work and classes.
Why are people protesting?
Hong Kong is a former British colony, but was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a ‘one country, two systems’ deal that guarantees it a level of autonomy.
The government had argued the proposed extradition bill would ‘plug the loopholes’ so that the city would not be a safe haven for criminals, following a murder case in Taiwan.
Critics have said the legislation would expose people in Hong Kong to China’s ‘deeply flawed justice system’ and lead to further erosion of the city’s judicial independence.
China has been excluded from Hong Kong’s extradition agreements because of concerns over its judicial independence and human rights record.
Many fear the law could be used to target political opponents of the Chinese state.
Many opponents of the extradition legislation are urging Ms Lam to step down and want her to drop the legislation, which many fear would undermine freedoms enjoyed by this former British colony but not elsewhere in China.
Ms Lam has sidestepped questions over whether she should quit and said she still plans to seek passage of the proposed amendment.
She also defended how the police dealt with the clashes with demonstrators.
But she said she was suspending the bill indefinitely.
It was time, she said, ‘for responsible government to restore as quickly as possible this calmness in society’.
She added: ‘I want to stress that the government is adopting an open mind. We have no intention to set a deadline for this work.’
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