On Sunday 27th April, thousands of people marched through the streets of Hong Kong, in the direction of Parliament. They demanded the annulment of the bill that would allow the defendants to be sent to China. Certainly, this would be a curtailment of the city’s fundamental freedoms in accordance with the terms of the British transfer to Beijing’s sovereignty in 1997.
Leung Kwok Hung, a veteran Hong Kong activist, has warned that this measure would prevent citizens from being “free from the fear” of a trial in China, where they believe the rights of the accused are far from guaranteed.
“People and visitors passing through Hong Kong will lose their right not to be extradited to mainland China,” Leung said. “They would have to face an unfair legal system on the continent,” he added.
In addition, younger demonstrators have expressed concern about China.
Some people wore yellow umbrellas. It is the symbol of the civil disobedience movement that paralyzed parts of Hong Kong for 11 weeks in 2014. The ‘Occupy Central‘ movement germinated in September of that year. It gained notoriety due to becoming one of the main challenges to the Communist Party of China since the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
The proposed changes have aroused: a concern among international business elites; lawyers; human rights groups; and even some figures close to Beijing.
Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong to return the city to the Chinese government in 1997, described the measure “as an assault on Hong Kong’s values, stability and security”.
Under this ordinance, Hong Kong would have the right to order the extradition of wanted criminals to China, Macao and Taiwan; and to other countries not covered by Hong Kong’s existing extradition treaties. As a safeguard, the city’s legal system could challenge and appeal the orders.
In addition, the Hong Kong Government has assured that no one in danger of receiving a death sentence in China will be transferred to the mainland, nor will anyone accused of a political crime. Moreover, following pressure from local businessmen, extradition has been waived for anyone charged with nine indictable commercial offenses.
In conclusion, the problem is that the proposals could become law later in the year. Also, the city’s pro-democracy bloc does not have enough seats to block the decision.