See More on Facebook

Politics

Hundreds of Hong Kong lawyers join silent march to demand inquiry into protests

China has labeled this the most challenging circumstance that Hong Kong has faced since the handover.


Written by

Updated: August 8, 2019

For the second time since anti-extradition protests escalated in June, thousands of lawyers joined a silent march to demand an independent inquiry into the unrest that has roiled Hong Kong, sparked by the highly controversial extradition Bill.

Dressed in black, more than 3,000 lawyers on Wednesday (Aug 7) marched from the Court of Final Appeal to Justice Place shortly before 1pm, making this the sixth and largest silent protest of its kind staged by the legal community since Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.

On June 6, nearly 3,000 lawyers joined a silent march to urge the government to immediately withdraw the contentious Bill, which would have allowed Hong Kong to hand over fugitives to various jurisdictions, such as Taiwan and, more importantly, mainland China, where they said suspects face unfair trials due to the opaque system.

On Wednesday, former Bar Association chairman Alan Leong urged authorities to act to save Hong Kong.

“Because our system is deteriorating at a speed that is totally unacceptable. Unless we do something to regain the trust and confidence of not only Hong Kong, but also of the international community, in the Hong Kong legal system, we are doomed,” he said.

The lawyers also said they fear that the justice department’s prosecutions of arrested protesters are taking an increasingly political slant after 44 protesters were charged with rioting, an offence that carries a 10-year jail term.

Last week, a group of anonymous government prosecutors published an open letter alleging Secretary of Justice Teresa Cheng of putting politics above legal principles.

Ms Audrey Eu, a senior counsel and a co-founder of the Civic Party, told the crowd on Wednesday that Ms Cheng’s decision to charge the 44 protesters with rioting indicates selective prosecution.

“If she is fast-tracking the charge of rioting, you would expect her to have fast-tracked also the charges of these attacks in Yuen Long on July 21. The very fact that she failed to do so cannot give you any other conclusion than that there is bias and there is political motive,” said Ms Eu.

On July 21, while a group of radical protesters battled with police in the streets of Sheung Wan, a group of armed white-clad men indiscriminately beat up passengers dressed in black and other coloured tops, at Yuen Long MTR station.

Many protesters and some citizens have been outraged at the delayed response by the police to calls for help that night.

In response, the Justice Department said prosecutorial decisions are professional and fair, based on evidence gathered and void of political considerations as some alleged.

On Wednesday morning, pro-establishment lawmaker Michael Tien told local broadcaster RTHK that he would press Beijing officials to tell Chief Executive Carrie Lam to fully withdraw the Bill and order an independent inquiry into the affair – the two most important demands of the protesters.

“(The protesters) agreed with me that if the government accedes to these requests, at least half of the supporters (of the protest) at the back would have gotten what they want and disappeared,” Mr Tien said, referring to his conversation with protesters who surrounded Tsuen Wan police headquarters on Monday.

He noted that many have protested as they felt their voices were not heard.

Mr Tien is part of the Hong Kong delegation to a seminar in Shenzhen attended by members of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference on Wednesday.

Separately, the Eastern Court heard that five people, aged between 22 and 32, face criminal charges for allegedly damaging traffic lights in Tsuen Wan during a protest in the early hours of Monday, ahead of calls for a citywide strike.

Of the five, two are also accused of failing to provide the police with identification documents.

Three of the five appeared in court on Wednesday morning, RTHK reported, adding that no pleas were taken. The accused were released on bail of HK$1,000 (S$177) and given curfews. Their cases have been adjourned till Oct 2.

The lawyers’ march on Wednesday marks the sixth straight day of protests this month alone.

Hong Kong has been plagued with unrest in the last two months as anti-extradition protesters turn increasingly confrontational in their tactics, leading to riot police firing rounds of tear gas on multiple occasions.

On Tuesday night, a group of protesters lay siege to Sham Shui Po police station following the arrest of a student leader.

The police then fired rounds of tear-gas from inside the station at the crowd of hundreds.

Baptist University University Student Union president Keith Fong was detained on suspicion of carrying offensive weapons, after plainclothed police said they found 10 laser pointers in his bag.

The police on Wednesday said they arrested nine people on Tuesday night.

So far, 589 people have been arrested for offences including taking part in a riot, unlawful assembly, assaulting officers, and possession of offensive weapons.

Meanwhile, calls on Telegram chat are asking people to bring their laser pointers to go star gazing outside the Space Museum at 8pm on Wednesday.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Politics

China pledges international pandemic aid

 Producers of medical goods urged to meet demand from affected countries. China has pledged to do its best to offer aid to countries and international organisations affected by COVID-19 to help contain the outbreak, and businesses are being urged to boost production of epidemic prevention materials to meet demand from abroad. The announcement was made at a meeting of the leading group of China’s coronavirus response, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday. Relevant departments and local authorities must step up co-ordination to closely monitor and analyse the quick spread of the outbreak outside China and roll out more targeted measures to prevent the import and export of infection, the group said in a statement. It is important to further


By China Daily
March 13, 2020

Politics

Back to work in Beijing, with tough measures in place

 Mandatory quarantine for those coming from overseas; some Wuhan businesses may reopen. As most of China attempts to return to normalcy after an extensive lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the capital Beijing has been carefully trying to strike a balance between having people restart work while also trying to keep out imported infections, and yesterday ordered a mandatory quarantine for all international arrivals. This comes as the Hubei government announced that some businesses in Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicentre, would gradually be allowed to reopen. On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, his first visit to the city since the outbreak, a sign that the crisis could finally be easing after the government’s toug


By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020

Politics

Xi vows victory over coronavirus in Wuhan

President expresses condolences to families of people who died in epidemic. President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday that prevention and control of the novel coronavirus outbreak remains the top priority and most important task, even amid the recent positive signs. Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark during his inspection tour in the outbreak’s epicentre, Wuhan, capital of Hubei province. The spread of the novel coronavirus has been basically curbed in Hubei and Wuhan, Xi said, adding that initial success has been made in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan. Xi encouraged local residents and front-line worke


By China Daily
March 11, 2020

Politics

China sets example in fighting virus

Epidemic reveals inadequacies in global governance; Beijing says it’s ready to help. China’s response to novel coronavirus pneumonia has set an example for the world in coping with the contagion and offered experience in advancing global public health governance, officials and experts said. The COVID-19 outbreak has also raised the alarm about global public health security and reminded countries that co-operation and co-ordination are needed to deal with challenges as infectious diseases can rapidly escalate into global emergencies, they said. There is a growing positive momentum in epidemic control nationwide thanks to the “comprehensive, thorough and rigorous” measures that China has taken to contain the virus, they said, noting that the daily


By China Daily
March 10, 2020

Politics

More than 800,000 people return Beijing under quarantine

“There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. About 827,000 people who came back to Beijing from outside the city are still in a 14-day quarantine to see if they had been infected with the novel coronavirus, an official said on Friday. “There’s still a risk of an outbreak of the disease with people coming to Beijing from other cities and countries,” Zhang Tongjun, deputy head of a group for prevention and control work in the city’s residential communities, said during an afternoon conference. Z


By China Daily
March 9, 2020

Politics

South Korea declares third city as special care zone as cases spike

President Moon receives letter of support from North Korean leader as infected cases cross 6,000. South Korea has declared a third city a “special care zone” to boost its capability to fight a spike in coronavirus infections, with cases nationwide soaring beyond 6,000. The death toll stands at 42, mostly the elderly with underlying health conditions, while 88 people have recovered, including 47 discharged yesterday. The care zone announcement came as the presidential Blue House revealed that South Korean President Moon Jae-in received a letter on Wednesday from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressing support and comfort to the people battling the coronavirus outbreak, adding that he is confident they will “prevail in this fight wit


By The Straits Times
March 6, 2020