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Hundreds of thousands take to Hong Kong streets against controversial extradition bill

Crowds march past Wan Chai fire station. Photo: Winson Wong. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

Pan Pacific Agency | COMMUICATION AGENCY FOR PACIFICA REGIONS

HONG KONG, Jun 9, 2019, SCMP. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators flooded Hong Kong’s streets on Sunday to oppose the government’s extradition bill in the most unified protest march in the city in more than a decade. Some have called it the ultimate showdown over the bill, which goes to a vote on June 12, reported the South China Morning Post.

The sea of marchers set off from Victoria Park just before 3pm and streets in nearby Causeway Bay were soon brought to a standstill as protesters clad in white chanted and sang songs as they walked in the oppressive heat, many carrying placards denouncing the fugitive proposal. Overcrowded MTR stations especially at Admiralty, Central, Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay – led to at least one MTR station being bypassed to manage the crowds.

Tensions have escalated in recent weeks as Hongkongers from all walks of life have spoken out against the proposal. Petitions against the bill have circulated, thousands of lawyers staged a silent march and several chambers of commerce have voiced concerns. The bill’s proponents, notably the city’s administration, see it as vital tool to fight transnational crime and maintain the rule of law.

By 5pm, there had been reports of scuffles between protesters and police, but no major violence. Some crowd estimates were as high as 500,000 people, other as low as 40,000. Follow our live blog below for up-to-the-minute reports as the march continues to make its way to government headquarters in Admiralty.

Even with more lanes opened and the front of the procession reaching its destination at government headquarters in Admiralty, Hennessy Road outside the Sogo department store is still a sea of protesters. The area is near the starting point of the event at Victoria Park.

Barrister Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee calls the march a new start in light of the 2003 protest against the national security law and the 2014 Occupy movement.

“We should be extraordinarily proud for the innovative actions we have taken.”

Ng says the world has been watching. “Will anyone believe Carrie Lam any more if she continues to claim that there is only a small number of people opposing the bill?”

The Civil Human Rights Front calls on march-goers who have arrived at the Legislative Council Complex to join a rehearsal to circle the building. Organisers urge protesters to stay on at Legco and wait for numbers to build up, readying for a long protest into the night.

Figo Chan, the front’s deputy convener, says the move on Legco is a peaceful, rational and non-violent action, and asks protesters to follow the instructions to walk around Tamar Park and the Legco Complex.
Protesters outside Legco are told by organisers to make a cross with their arms, symbolising their disapproval of the bill. “No extradition to China. Oppose the evil law,” the crowd shouts.

Protesters near Sogo department store are upbeat after police clear all lanes on Hennessy Road. Another line nearby has been opened by police to allow crowds to join the main procession. Before that, some groups have been stuck in the section for more than an hour.

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