Hong Kong protesters call for British backing
Protesters in Hong Kong opposed to the legislative council’s controversial bill to allow extradition to China have called for greater support from the UK Government. It came as Amnesty International criticised the apparent use of British-made CS gas canisters against demonstrators during clashes with riot police on Wednesday. The legislative council will remain shut for a third day following almost a week of public protests, with debate on the bill suspended indefinitely.
DEMONSTRATORS in Hong Kong are calling on Britain to voice stronger opposition against the Chinese extradition bill that has triggered mass protests and rare scenes of violence.
On the day after hundreds of thousands took to the streets to block parliament from debating the proposed laws, some protesters turned their anger toward their former colonial rulers.
Jessica Yeung, 50, a university professor on hunger strike, asked: “Is Britain going to honour its promise to the Hong Kong people that our way of life will not be threatened after they handed us over to the Chinese?”
Standing by the city’s main government building as rows of riot police watched a few metres away, she told The Daily Telegraph: “Britain told us to trust them, so we trusted them. But the UK has let us down terribly.”
Pictures appearing to show Britishmade CS gas canisters being fired at civilians have been circulating on social media since Wednesday. The canisters are believed to have been manufactured by the British defence contractor Chemring Defence.
Oliver Feeley-sprague, Amnesty International UK’S military, security and police programme director, said: “The use of tear gas against civilians is shocking, and we want the UK Government to prevent any further supplies of crowd control equipment supplied to Hong Kong that risks being used to threaten legitimate protests.”
Protesters surrounded the Hong Kong parliament on Wednesday, demanding leaders scrap a plan to send individuals to face trial in mainland China’s legal system, where the ruling Communist Party controls the courts.
Hong Kong’s legislature will shut for a third day today, and rounds of debate over the extradition bill that were previously scheduled for this week have been suspended indefinitely. But a vote could still be rushed through.
Yesterday, protest leaders called for another citywide march on Sunday. Last Sunday’s turnout was estimated at more than a million people.
Under the 1997 Sino-british Joint Declaration, the “one country, two systems” principle guaranteed the communist system of China would not be imposed in Hong Kong for “at least” 50 years. But many say those rights are being infringed by Beijing, and that the UK must take responsibility in holding China to account. Some protesters waved Union flags in acts of defiance during Wednesday’s protests.
Phoebe Ng, 21, a university student, who also took part in mass protests five years ago, said: “Definitely we feel betrayed.”
Wing Chan, 21, a university student, said: “They [Britain] can do more because it is important for the economy and for freedoms.”