Several hundred thousand people took to the streets in Hong Kong on Sunday to protest a new extradition law that would allow China to extradite suspects from the autonomous territory to face charges in mainland China.
The organizers say more than 500,000 people showed up, with the protesters wearing all white and chanting “step down” and “shelve the evil law.”
The massive protest Sunday is occurring three days before Hong Kong’s government plans to win approval of the bill by the end of the month, according to Reuters.
One protester had a sign that read “let’s make Hong Kong great again,” with a photo of President Trump firing Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who has the power to withdraw the bill.
Demonstrators hold signs during a protest to demand authorities scrap a proposed extradition bill with China, in Hong Kong, China June 9, 2019. (REUTERS/Thomas Peter – RC12BF083720)
Those against the bill say the Chinese government could take anyone from Hong Kong for political reasons or for unintentional business offenses.
Foreign governments, including the U.S., have criticized the bill for fear it would impact Hong Kong’s rule of law and financial markets, according to Reuters.
The city was a former British colony that was handed back to China in 1997 under the condition it would have a separate legal system. This bill could change that.
On Sunday, lawmakers and protesters put the pressure on Lam to withdraw the bill.
Protesters hold placards march in a rally against the proposed amendments to extradition law in Hong Kong, Sunday, June 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
“She has to withdraw the bill and resign,” Democratic Party lawmaker James To said to crowds on Sunday night. “The whole of Hong Kong is against her.”
Hong Kong officials have defended the plans, saying the laws have safeguards, including local judges, who will see cases before approval by Lam.
“We continue to listen to a wide cross-section of views and opinions and remain open to suggestions on ways to improve the new regime,” a government official said on Sunday.
Reuters says temperatures reached 90 degrees on Sunday and the protesters included families, workers and business executives, some of whom had never been to a protest before.
“I come here to fight,” said a wheelchair-bound, 78-year-old man surnamed Lai, who was among the first to arrive, according to Reuters.
Debates on the amendment to the bill begin on Wednesday, which could be passed into law by the end of June.
A similar protest on the extradition bill occurred earlier this year in April, where over 100,000 showed up.