PTU News Reporter
United against the extradition law amendment bill proposed by the HKSAR government, the education sector and the general public of Hong Kong took to the streets on two consecutive Sundays, with as many as 1.03 million participants on June 9th and two million on June 16th. In the past two weeks, the demands of Hongkongers were loud and clear – withdrawal of the extradition law amendment bill, retraction of the categorisation of the protest as a riot, dropping charges against arrested protestors, investigation into the police’s excessive violence, and Carrie Lam’s accountability and resignation. Yet, the government refused to listen to the people and only agreed on a suspension of the amendment bill as of last Friday (June 21st).
The amendment bill concerns every Hong Kong citizen. As soon as extradition to China is made legal, no man is an island. Early on in the anti-extradition law movement, few citizens were aware of the impacts of the law amendment. The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU) published a brochure on the issue, which was well received and circulated on various social media platforms. It was later translated into English and Japanese by eager netizens.
Police Fired 150 Rounds of Tear Gas
PTU Condemns Excessive Violence
The anti-extradition law movement escalated in the beginning of June. On June 9th, 1.03 million Hongkongers took to the streets to protest against the evil law. On June 12th, the day the Second Reading of the amendment bill was scheduled, in which tens of thousands of Hongkongers took to the streets. As clashes broke out between the protestors and the police, the police used an excessive amount of violence to dispel protestors. 150 rounds of tear gas, 20 bean bag rounds, and several rubber bullets were deployed in total, to which Hong Kong public were deeply angered.
Video clips shown police officers continued using aggression against protestors who had already collapsed onto the ground as well as shooting bean bag rounds or rubber bullets without prior warning. Their behavior was unjustifiable and violated the regulations on use of force stated in the Police General Orders. In response, the PTU issued a statement condemning the police’s excessive violence and urged the government to establish an independent investigation committee to interrogate the matter. In view of the movement’s development, the PTU initiated a citywide school strike in the evening of June 12th, calling education professionals to strike according to the principle ‘boycott classes, not education’, in which they should suspend planned lessons or lectures and discuss with students issues related to the anti-extradition law movement instead.
2 million + 1 in Protest Writing Hong Kong’s History
In her speech on June 15th, Carrie Lam refused to retract the amendment bill and only announced a suspension. In the evening of the same day, a protestor against the amendment bill plunged to his death at Pacific Place in Admiralty, causing the city insurmountable grief. Citizens took to the streets for a second consecutive Sunday on June 19th to voice their dismay at the government. The organiser announced 2 million + 1 citizens participated in the demonstration, which was the biggest throughout Hong Kong history. The protest took place in a peaceful and orderly manner, and it has shown the outstanding citizen quality of Hongkongers. Carrie Lam apologised to Hongkongers in a press conference on June 18th, but refused to retract the amendment bill.
The amendment bill controversy has yet to come to an end. The PTU demands Carrie Lam and her administration to respond to the five demands of the people. The government claimed they would like to repair the relationship after the bill amendment controversy but never responded to public’s request for setting up independent commission of inquiry to look into alleged excessive use of force by police. In order for the government to rebuild trust with its people, the PTU believes the authority must review the excessive use of force by police and the police complaint system so as to avoid the recurrent of similar incidents. The youth is Hong Kong’s future and the government must listen to, respect, and cherish the younger generations. At the same time, the government must carefully resolve all issues caused by the amendment bill.