Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to withdraw extradition bill

By BBC On Wed, 4 Sep, 2019 13:58 | < 1 min read
Hong Kong
Students have been the backbone of a movement that sprang up to oppose government plans to allow extraditions to China. PHOTO | AFP

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said she will withdraw the controversial extradition bill which triggered months of protests.

The proposal, introduced in April, would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.

The bill was suspended in June when Ms Lam called it “dead”, but she stopped short of withdrawing it.

Full withdrawal is one of five key demands of protesters, who are also calling for full democratic rights.

In a televised address on Wednesday, Ms Lam also announced that two senior officials would join an existing inquiry into police conduct during the protests.

An independent investigation into alleged police brutality against protesters is another of the activists’ demands.

On Monday, Ms Lam was heard on leaked audio tapes blaming herself for igniting Hong Kong’s political crisis, and saying it was unforgiveable of her to have caused such huge havoc.

The extradition bill quickly drew criticism after being unveiled in April. Opponents said it would undermine Hong Kong’s legal freedoms and might be used to intimidate or silence critics of Beijing.

Hong Kong is now in its 14th successive week of demonstrations, and saw fresh violence between police and activists last weekend.

Ahead of Ms Lam’s announcement, leading pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong said the withdrawal of the bill would be “too little too late”.

In a series of tweets he said all the protesters’ demands had to be met.

Demonstrators also want an amnesty for those arrested, greater political reforms and for officials to stop describing the protests as riots.

Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 after more than 150 years of British rule. It has remained semi-autonomous under a “one country, two systems” principle but some fear China is seeking greater control.


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