Hong Kong extradition protests: Lam criticises ‘organised riots’
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam criticised protests against a proposed bill that would allow extradition to China, calling them “organised riots”.
She said the clashes between protesters and police were “unacceptable for any civilised societies”.
Seventy-two people aged between 15 and 66 were injured in violence, including two men who were in critical condition.
The bill’s critics cite the alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions and forced confessions in mainland China.
They also fear that the law could be used to target political opponents of the Chinese state in Hong Kong.
Ms Lam’s government has backed the bill, which is also supported by China. The Hong Kong government has said there will be legally binding human rights safeguards.
Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) has delayed a second reading but the bill is expected to pass on a final vote on 20 June.
How did the protests unfold?
The rallies against the extradition bill have been the biggest since Hong Kong was handed back to China by the British in 1997.
On Wednesday, activists tried to storm government buildings and police responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets at crowds of demonstrators. The protesters also blocked key roads around government buildings and threw bricks and projectiles at police.
Rights groups including Amnesty accused police of using excessive force, but Hong Kong Police Commissioner Stephen Lo Wai-chung said police had had “no choice”.
As night fell on Wednesday, protesters remained in some streets in the central Hong Kong, behind makeshift barricades, despite sustained efforts by police officers to disperse them. Officials said 21 officers had been hurt in the clashes.
Separately, police said they were investigating death threats made against Ms Lam. In a tearful interview on a local TV station, Ms Lam dismissed accusations that she had “sold out” Hong Kong.
“I have grown up here with all the Hong Kong people, my love for this place has led me to make many personal sacrifices,” she said.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said reports that security forces might be sent to Hong Kong from the mainland were “fake news”. Read more