HONG KONG (SE): Around 130,000 people joined a rally on April 28, organised by the Civil Human Rights Front, to express their opposition the proposed extradition law which they believe will undermine the right of Hong Kong people to a fair trial and jeopardise the principle of One Country, Two Systems. Organisers of the rally said the turnout was 130,000.
Before the rally, a short prayer service was organised by the Justice and Peace Commission near Paterson Street in Causeway Bay, where intercessions were offered for democracy in Hong Kong.
Lina Chan Lai-nga, executive secretary of the commission, said she was concerned people could be extradited to China on trumped up charges should the law is implemented. She pointed to the case of book publisher, Gui Minhai, a shareholder of Causeway Bay Books, who disappeared while in Thailand in 2015.
Gui resurfaced months later in the custody of mainland Chinese authorities and appeared in a confessional video of dubious credibility, broadcast by China’s state television, in which he said he was being imprisoned due to an alleged traffic accident from 11 years prior.
The incident, which involved the disappearance of five other individuals, stoked concerns that people could be subject to rendition from Hong Kong and from other countries by Chinese law enforcement without due process of law.
However, Chan said people with faith should not be discouraged and be brave to say no to unjust laws.
Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, the former bishop of Hong Kong, said people should be concerned about the propose law. He said he is deeply worried that it will threaten the freedom of Hong Kong people to communicate with the people of the unofficial Church in China.
The cardinal, in yellow T-shirt, asked those present to remember the imprisoned leaders of the Umbrella Movement who could not go to the rally but urged people to join before being sent to jail. He also told people that even though men can do little, they have to humbly believe in the power of prayer.
According to the Kung Kao Po, while the rally was scheduled to start at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, due to the large number of participants, people at the prayer service were asked to wait at Great George Street before joining others.
Participants filled up East Point Road and Lockhart Road, as they waited to march along the Hennessy Road to the Legislative Council building in Admiralty.
The last group of participants arrived at Admiralty around four hours later. Police claimed that 22,800 protesters joined at its height.
Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, chief secretary, told the media that the size of turnout was not a main concern, as the government needed a mechanism to deal with the loopholes allowing fugitives to walk free. He dismissed worries that the law could be used to crack down on human rights, explaining that the courts of Hong Kong would perform their gatekeeping role.
An earlier rally on March 31, also organised by the Civil Human Rights Front, saw 12,000 people march from Wanchai to the Central Government Offices in Tamar, although the police estimated that around 5,000 people took part (Sunday Examiner, April 21).