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By Gloria M’bwana
HONG KONG-(MaraviPost)-What started as demonstrations against an extradition bill have since taken on a much wider scope and are now demanding full democratic rights for Hong Kongers.

On 3 April , Hong Kong’s government introduced plans for changes to a legislation that would for criminal suspects to potentially be extradited to China.

Critics warned the bill could undermine Hong Kong’s legal freedoms and might be used to intimidate or silence dissidents.

According to BBC, this is a timeline of what happened next and how the movement evolved

The first big protests

On 9 June , an estimated one million people marched to the government headquarters to show they were against the proposed bill.

Critics say the plan would erode the city’s judicial independence

It was largely a peaceful rally, though some small skirmishes broke out.

Three days later, on 12 June , a fresh demonstration took place at which police fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

Police use tear gas on protesters

The stand-off developed into the worst violence Hong Kong had seen in decades.

Carrie Lam delays the bill

Another three days later, on 15 June, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam issued a dramatic reversal, saying she would indefinitely delay the extradition bill.

Carrie Lam expressed ‘deep sorrow’ over extradition law controversy

Despite this, an estimated two million people took to the streets the following day, 16 June , demanding the bill be withdrawn completely and calling for Ms Lam’s resignation.

Over the next days, anger grew towards the police and on 21 June , protesters blockaded police headquarters for 15 hours.

They now demanded that protesters who were arrested during previous

Protesters storm parliament

On 1 July , the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from the UK to China, the Legislative Council (LegCo) building was stormed by protesters who sprayed graffiti on the walls, displayed the colonial-era flag and defaced Hong Kong’s regional emblem.

One week later, on 7 July , tens of thousands marched in Kowloon – an area popular with mainland tourists – in a bid to explain their concerns. Until this point the protests had received little if any coverage in state-run mainland media.

On 9 July , Carrie Lam reiterated that the extradition bill was “dead” urging protesters to stop their actions. She still refrained from fully withdrawing the bill.

On 21 July , protesters defaced China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong.

That same night, mobs of men wearing white-shirts attack commuters in Yuen Long underground station – near mainland China- in a new escalation of violence.

Some suspected these were members of gangs called triads and pointed out that police arrived very late to stop them.

On 27 July , thousands demonstrated in Yuen Long condemning the station attack. Police responded by firing tear gas at the unauthorised protests.

On 2 August , even civil servants – supposed to be politically neutral – joined demonstrations in their thousands.

It’s not just about extradition anymore

By this point it had become clear the protests had evolved well beyond the initial demand of the withdrawal of the extradition bill.

Some protesters said it was now about what they saw as the erosion of the special freedoms Hong Kong has.

A former British colony and now part of China, Hong Kong is run under a “one country, two systems” agreement that guarantees it a level of autonomy, its own judiciary and a separate legal system from the mainland.

But there was also a lot of anger towards how the police handled the situation, and their use of force.

Violent clashes become the norm

On 3 August , protests took place for the ninth consecutive weekend.

Police again fired tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds at protesters, something many had now come to expect. By this time protesters were wearing masks and protective gear at every demonstration.

On 5 August , yet another city-wide strike was held, bringing services across Hong Kong to a standstill. Carrie Lam gave her first media address in two weeks, saying Hong Kong was “on the verge of a very dangerous situation”.

On 6 August , China warned the protesters not to “play with fire,” not to “underestimate the firm resolve [of] the central government” and not to “mistake restraint for weakness”.

It was one of the strongest warnings Beijing had issued over the protests.

Airport shut down by protesters

Protests moved into a tenth week without showing signs of dying down.

On 11 August , police stormed enclosed railway stations, firing tear gas at protesters, leading yet again to dramatic scenes of confrontation.

During the violence that Sunday, one protester was injured in her eye – it remains unclear how – becoming a symbol of the protest movement.

The next day, on 12 August , protesters gathered at the airport, leading to hundreds of flights being cancelled.

The protest again saw violent clashes between the activists and police and China condemned them as “behaviour that is close to terrorism” – in a sign of Beijing’s rhetoric hardening.

As the airport standoff was under way, Hong Kong police admitted deploying officers disguised as anti-government protesters during the unrest the previous day.

Some officers disguised themselves as “different characters”, a spokesman said, adding that the “decoy operation” had targeted “extreme violent rioters”.

Source: REUTERS

 

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