Hong Kong again shelves debate on divisive bill amid more protests

June 13 (UPI) — For the second day in a row Thursday, Hong Kong’s legislature tabled a debate on a controversial extradition bill after protesters took to the streets again.

This time, a smaller group of protesters donned black clothes and face masks as they gathered on a pedestrian bridge with cards that read “#Retract.” Most dispersed after it was announced the extradition bill debate was postponed. Wednesday, officials shelved debate after hundreds of thousands of demonstrators crowded the parliament building and clashed with police.

The crowd Wednesday, estimated at 1 million people, blocked major roads around the government headquarters using makeshift barricades of their own. At least 80 people were injured in Wednesday’s protests. Two people were arrested on Thursday.

The bill would allow China, which controls Hong Kong, to extradite criminals from the territory, a move protesters fear would lead to abuses against political opponents. Hong Kong residents enjoy certain freedoms those in China don’t have.

“Members will be notified of the time of the meeting once it is determined by the president,” the president’s office said in a statement.

Hong Kong is still cleaning up from what the government called “riot-scale” protests Wednesday, when demonstrators hurled bricks against police officers and charged barricades. Riot police responded with rubber bullets and tear gas.

“Most of the people they were facing were weapon-less young people,” Democratic Party Chair Wu Chi told Hong Kong Free Press. “[Chief Executive] Carrie Lam is cold-blooded … Carrie Lam, pro-Beijing lawmakers, and all police officers and top officials who helped them — they can never appease the wrath of the world, even if they die 10,000 times.”

He encouraged protesters to continue using all legal and reasonable means to paralyze the government.

Lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung said the protests reminded him of the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989 when the Chinese army killed student protesters in Beijing.

“The [Hong Kong] police shot at people without any hesitation — they have no conscience,” he said.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Wong Kowk-kin said the police used reasonable force when the protesters charged and attempted to enter the Legislative Council Complex. Pro-democracy People Power member Raymond Chan Chi-chuen said his party wanted to meet with Cheng Yuet-ngor Thursday.

No date has been set for the legislature to take the bill up again. The government must give notice before calling a meeting but the rules don’t say how much time should be given.

Pro-establishment camp rebel Michael Tien Puk-sun said the legislature could amending the legislation.

“Now that the premises are unblocked, why is there no meeting?” Tien asked. “I think security is no longer a reason.”

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