Hong Kong protests – what is happening and why are there riots? – The Sun

Hong Kong protests – what is happening and why are there riots? – The Sun

PROTESTERS in Hong Kong initially began opposing a law that would have allowed extradition to China but are now demanding broader human rights reform.

Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam, has since withdrawn the controversial bill, but the protests are still ongoing. Here is what we know.

What is happening in Hong Kong?

Protests have gripped Hong Kong since June 2019, sparked by highly controversial legislation to extradite those convicted of crimes to mainland China and Taiwan.

Clashes in the months since have seen police fire rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray at protesters in repeated bids to break up peaceful demonstrations.

The final week of September marked the 16th week for which demonstrators have been on the streets.

The latest round of unrest saw protesters descend on some of Hong Kong's busiest shopping districts.

The protests, which had not been sanctioned by authorities, were scheduled to begin a 3pm on Sunday 29 September, but riot police began guarding the area hours before and searching a number of young people dressed in black.

Around 40 minutes before the march was due to start, police fired tear gas into the crowds.

Hong Kong's financial district saw the majority of the violence.

Many protesters began the march regardless, with some hurling bricks and petrol bombs back at police.

Dozens were later arrested, with some having been tackled to the ground and left bleeding heavily.

During the most recent protest, a police officer shot a masked protester at close range during rush hour demonstrations.

In the clip, the officer can be seen grabbing one protester before a second masked demonstrator in black approaches the scuffle.

The officer then raises his gun to the second person, who appears to try and wave or slap the gun out of the officer's hand.

Why are people protesting?

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Wednesday the government will formally withdraw the extradition bill.

But she said the government would not accept other demands, which include an independent inquiry into alleged police misconduct against protesters and the unconditional release of those detained.

Instead, she named two new members to a police watchdog agency investigating the matter.

From originally being about opposition to the extradition bill, the protests mushroomed into a broader backlash against the government.

They were fuelled by fears about growing control by China's Communist party.

Hong Kong, a former British colony in south eastern China, has long enjoyed a special status under the principal "one country, two systems".

The Basic Law dictates that Hong Kong will retain its common law and capitalist system for 50 years after the handover in 1997.

But there are fears China is extending its influence over Hong Kong long before this deadline.

Protesters see the move to try Hong Kong citizens under Chinese law as deeply problematic – in 2015, 99.9 per cent of those accused in China's courts were convicted.

Protesters also believe their leader should be elected in a more democratic way that reflects the preference of the voters.

The chief executive, Carrie Lam, is currently elected by a 1,200-member election committee – a mostly pro-Beijing body chosen by just six per cent of eligible voters.

How is the Chinese government reacting to the protest?

Beijing has reacted furiously to the protests, warning those involved not to "play with fire".

Face masks have been banned and China's military released a threatening video showing them conducting anti-riot drills.

The footage – believed to have been filmed in the region – shows armed troops descending from helicopters and shooting their way through the streets and into people's homes.

Chinese police and soldiers have been seen training with “giant forks” as Hong Kong braces itself for another weekend of protests across the city.

Security forces were spotted carrying out crowd control exercises with the terrifying weapons at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Centre just 4.5 miles from the border with Hong Kong.

Google has shut down 210 channels on YouTube it said were part of a "coordinated” attempt to post material about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

Lam has been forced to suspend her annual address after being heckled in parliament.

Opposition lawmakers disrupted the Legislative Council session by shouting and projecting slogans behind her.

Who is Carrie Lam?

Carrie Lam, 62, is Hong Kong's Chief Executive – the state's most senior politician.

Lam suspended the bill a month after the demonstrations started – however she did not fully withdraw it leading to criticism from the protest movement's leaders.

Earlier this year, she said the extradition bill was "dead," adding the government's work on the bill had been a "total failure".

The bill would allow extraditions to any jurisdiction that does not already have a treaty – including mainland China and Taiwan.

The government claims the measure would prevent the seven million strong population from becoming a magnet for fugitives.

Facing deafening calls to resign, Ms Lam retreated for a fortnight.

Lam accused activists of using the extradition bill to hide their real goal, which she claims is to "destroy Hong Kong".

Who is protesting?

A huge cross-section of society including lawyers, journalists, activists and business figures have joined in widespread protests across the region.

Activists say they won't stop until their main demands are met.

These include the resignation of the Hong Kong's leader, Carrie Lam, an amnesty for those arrested and a permanent withdrawal of the bill.

What was the Umbrella movement?

The Umbrella revolution was a series of sit-in street protests in Hong Kong, running from September 26 to December 15, 2014.

The former British colony had been promised it would be able to elect its leader by universal suffrage by 2017 – unlike the system of a "nominating committee" of 1,200, formed largely from Beijing elites.

Protests were sparked when in August 2014, Beijing passed a reform framework to stipulate universal suffrage as they wanted it.

This would mean only two or three committee-vetted candidates who "love the country" would be able to run – and proved the final straw for those disillusioned by the thinning veneer of democracy.

Students began striking on September 22, with thousands of residents joining them as the movement ballooned.

The revolution won its name from the use of umbrellas to defend protesters against police pepper spray.

Despite the mass movement, the protest ended without any political concessions from the government, with three of the most prominent activists sentenced to six to eight months' imprisonment for unlawful assembly.

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