Tens of thousands of people marched on Hong Kong’s parliament yesterday to demand the scrapping of proposed extradition rules that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial – a move which some fear puts the city’s core freedoms at risk. Opponents of the proposal fear further erosion of rights and legal protections in the free-wheeling financial hub – freedoms which were guaranteed under the city’s handover from British colonial rule to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Ranks of marchers snaked peacefully for more than three hours through the shopping and business districts of Causeway Bay and Wanchai, with thousands staying on into the evening outside the Legislative Council and government headquarters. Police said 22,800 people marched at the peak of the procession, but organisers estimated 130,000 turned out – making it one of the largest street protests in the city for several years. Observers said the turnout dwarfed an earlier protest against the plan last month. Veteran activist and former legislator Leung Kwok-hung said the government’s move risked removing Hong Kongers’ “freedom from fear”. “Hong Kong people and visitors passing by Hong Kong will lose their right not to be extradited into mainland China,” he said. “They would need to face an unjust legal system on the mainland.” Some younger marchers said they were worried about travelling to the mainland after the move, which comes just as the Government encourages young people to deepen ties with the mainland and promotes Hong Kong’s links with southern China. Law clerk Edward Wen, 45, said the difference in human rights standards between Hong Kong and the mainland was too great to bridge. “You will be screwed as long as they put up a crime on your behalf,” he said. The marchers’ chanted demands for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down echoed through the high-rise streets, with some protesters saying she had “betrayed” Hong Kong.
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Causeway Bay and WanchaiHong KongExtradition laws