Sunday, August 18, 2019

Hong Kong activists call on G20 leaders to help ‘liberate’ city

  • >> Reuters
    Published: 2019-06-26 10:49:34 BdST

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Hong Kong activists march to major international consulates in an attempt to rally foreign governments' support for their fight against a controversial extradition bill, in Hong Kong, China Jun 26, 2019. REUTERS

More than a thousand protesters marched to major foreign consulates on Wednesday calling on leaders at the upcoming G20 summit to raise the plight of Hong Kong with China and to support the full scrapping of a controversial extradition bill.

Holding placards including "Please Liberate Hong Kong" and chanting "Help Hong Kong", the demonstrators, some wearing masks, marched to a succession of consulates represented at the Group of 20 major economies summit in Japan's Osaka this weekend.

Over the past three weeks, millions of Hong Kong people have protested against an extradition bill that would have allowed individuals, including foreigners, to be extradited to mainland China to face trial in courts controlled by the Communist Party.

Hong Kong's Beijing-appointed leader Carrie Lam, eventually caved in after some of the worst violence seen in decades on the city's streets, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets.

But Lam stopped short of protester demands to scrap the bill altogether, saying it would be suspended indefinitely.

"As long as the government doesn't withdraw the bill, and they refuse to respond, then we will keep on fighting," said Aslee Tam, a 19-year-old university student in the march.

"We want to make some noise during the G20 meeting, to let other countries discuss the issues in Hong Kong."

At the U.S. consulate, protesters handed over a petition asking president Donald Trump to "Back Hong Kong at the G20 Summit". They urged Trump to raise Hong Kong with China's leader Xi Jinping, and to support a full withdrawal of the extradition bill and to set up an independent investigation into Hong Kong police brutality against protesters.

The protesters, some wearing "Liberate Hong Kong" T-shirts, also marched to the British consulate where their petition was received by a senior diplomat. Britain's Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt told parliament on Tuesday that London would ban sales of tear gas to Hong Kong and called for an independent probe into the recent violence.

The raising of Hong Kong's extradition saga could prove to be an embarrassment for China's leader Xi, at a delicate time of rising trade tensions with the United States, and pile further pressure on Hong Kong's leader amid reports Beijing now harbours serious doubts about her capabilities.

An assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Zhang Jun said earlier this week that China won't allow Hong Kong to be discussed at the G20.

But Hong Kong activists have raised more than HK$5 million in a crowd-funding campaign to take out newspaper ads in major foreign media like the New York Times in a bid to raise awareness of Hong Kong's plight at the G20. Some Hong Kong activists have also travelled to Osaka.