Here’s the full press release from the Hong Kong legislative council:
Under Rules of Procedure 14(3), the President of the Legislative Council has directed that the Council meeting of 12 June 2019 scheduled to begin at 11:00 am today be changed to a later time to be determined by him. Members will be notified of the time of the meeting later.
Debate about legislative assembly cancelled after protests
In a dramatic reversal, debate about the controversial legislation, that was due to happen today, has been cancelled, to be rescheduled for a later date to be announced.
What is the proposed extradition law?
Hong Kong’s amended extradition law would allow the extradition of suspects to mainland China for the first time. Supporters say the amendments are key to ensuring the city does not become a criminal refuge, but critics worry Beijing will use the law to extradite political opponents and others to China where their legal protections cannot be guaranteed.
The government claims the push to change the law, which would also apply to Taiwan and Macau, stems from the killing last year of a Hong Kong woman while she was in Taiwan with her boyfriend. Authorities in Taiwan suspect the woman’s boyfriend, who remains in Hong Kong, but cannot try him because no extradition agreement is in place.
Under the amended law, those accused of offences punishable by seven years or more in prison could be extradited. The new legislation would give Hong Kong’s leader, known as the chief executive, authority to approve extradition requests, after review by the courts. Hong Kong’s legislature, the legislative council, would not have any oversight over the extradition process.
Why are Hong Kongers so angry about the bill?
Many Hong Kongers fear the proposed extradition law will be used by authorities to target political enemies. They worry the new legislation spells the end of the “one country, two systems” policy, eroding the civil rights enjoyed by Hong Kong residents since the handover of sovereignty from the UK to China in 1997.
Many attending the protests on Sunday said they could not trust China as it had often used non-political crimes to target government critics, and said they also feared Hong Kong officials would not be able to reject Beijing’s requests.
Legal professionals have also expressed concern over the rights of those sent across the border to be tried. The conviction rate in Chinese courts is as high as 99%. Arbitrary detentions, torture and denial of legal representation of one’s choosing are also common.
Protesters are anticipating things will get violent.
Our reporter on the ground Verna Yu says volunteers are handing out cling film, umbrellas, water and masks and people are asking “Does anyone have helmets for people at the front?”
Protesters have told our reporter Verna Yu that they have already been sprayed with pepper spray by police.
As well as putting up umbrellas to protect against tear gas, they are also wrapping their skin in cling film.
Our reporter Verna Yu has been talking to protesters about why they are out on the streets today.
Grace Chan, 30, who has a two-year-old, said: “I don’t want my kid to grow up in a place where we have no sense of security. Although they say the law is for going after fugitives, it can be so easily used for political purpose.”
A 55-year-old lab technician who gave his name only as Chan, said: “I am here for Hong Kong, for our next generation.
“We don’t trust China. Rules and laws can be arbitrarily applied and we can see this in Hong Kong already,” he said, citing the recent disqualifications of pro-democracy lawmakers and jailing of the leaders of the 2014 Occupy Central movement.
Chan said if the law passed he would convert his saving to US dollars and seek to move abroad.
Our reporter on the ground in Hong Kong, Verna Yu, says protesters have put up umbrellas in case the police use tear gas. Here are some videos of the protests that she took earlier this morning.
Debate about the controversial extradition legislation is due to start in the 70-seat legislative council at about 11am or 11:30am local time (in either 30 minutes or an hour’s time).
There won’t be a vote today, as the legislature’s chair, Andrew Leung, has said he would limit debate on the extradition bill to 61 hours, meaning it could be put to a vote on 20 June, reported RTHK.
Things heat up in Hong Kong
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of the protests in Hong Kong, where tens of thousands of demonstrators have gathered as politicians debate controversial extradition legislation.
Early on Wednesday, major roads were blocked by masses of protesters, who began systematically barricades set up by police near the legislative council building and chanting “retract, retract!” Demonstrators are protesting laws that critics fear would let China spirit its critics across the border.
Things seem to be heating up. Police officers are at the protests in riot gear, with shields, helmets and rifles. South China Morning Post reports that earlier in the day police unfurled a flag with the words: “Disperse or we fire”.
We will be bringing you the coverage of the protests and debate as it happens. My colleagues Verna Yu and Lily Kuo are on the ground in Hong Kong and Beijing respectively, you can get in touch with them or me on Twitter. Otherwise, follow for updates here.