Protestors disperse after surrounding Hong Kong police HQ
HONG KONG, Kyodo - Thousands of protesters who on Friday surrounded Hong Kong's police headquarters demanding the complete withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill dispersed in the early hours of Saturday.
The crowd, led by student groups, occupied streets surrounding the police station and nearby government offices for most of Friday, forcing the suspension of police and public services.
While most of the crowd dispersed around 3 a.m., about 20 people remained at a protest zone near the legislative building in a continuous effort to keep the protest going.
The police released a statement condemning the blockading of their complex, saying, “The acts of the protestors seriously affected the work of police, including the provision of emergency services to the public.”
“Their means of expressing views have become illegal, irrational and unreasonable. Police will stringently follow up on these illegal activities,” the statement said.
The territory's leader Carrie Lam on Tuesday suspended work on the contentious bill and apologized to the public over her mishandling of the legislation, which could allow the transfer of fugitives to mainland China. She promised not to re-introduce the bill “if these fears and anxieties cannot be adequately addressed.”
Both Secretary for Security John Lee and Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng have followed suit and made apologies, but none of protesters' demands have been met.
In addition to calling for the bill to be scrapped altogether, they want charges against all detained activists to be dropped and for the government to revoke the term “riot” to describe violent clashes on June 12.
Cheng said Saturday that prosecutors would not be affected by how the June 12 protests are publicly characterized, Radio Television Hong Kong reported.
Apologizing for the first time in person, Cheng told reporters she was sorry for the government's shortcomings in handling the matter. She also said that there is no timetable to bring the legislation back to the Legislative Council.
A Hong Kong government spokesman confirmed Friday that work on revising the bill has been halted and that the government accepts the reality that the bill will expire in about a year.
The current term of the Legislative Council ends in July next year, and under its rules the bill will automatically expire if it is not reintroduced by then.
While indefinitely suspending work on the bill in the Legislative Council means it will likely be automatically dropped next year, some protesters remain skeptical. (Kyodo)