Hong Kong has recently been seeing widespread protests for the restoration of its democratic fabric.The protests are primarily targeted against an extradition bill that has been proposed by the government.
If the bill is passed, it will give local authorities the power to detain and extradite people who may be ‘wanted’ in territories in which Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements.
It is being feared that if the Bill is passed, it will put both residents of Hong Kong as well as foreign visitors under the jurisdiction of mainland China. This is turn would become a threat to Hong Kong’s own autonomy and the rights of its citiznes. The protests have been going on since June, 2019.
On Sunday, protests in Hong Kong took another fierce turn when the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) deployed water canons for the first time and also fired a live shot in order to disperse the thousands of protestors gathered from Kwai Chung to Tseun Wan district. The pro-democracy protesters were dressed in plastic ponchos and rain coats, and huddled under a sea of umbrellas. The Sunday protest was organised for reiterating the five demands of their movement. The protestors also opposed the government’s installation of “smart” environmental monitoring lampposts, which have sparked privacy concerns.
The protests took a violent turn when a group of protestors broke off from the main march and began attacking the police with bricks, metal poles, and petrol bombs from behind the makeshift barricades they had built using traffic cones and street railings in the street. According to the police record, twenty-one personnel got injured in this brawl.
In retaliation, the police force, for the first time, deployed a water cannon against the makeshift barricade. Police, however, failed to disperse the protesters as the water canon succeeded in pushing them back, but could not dismiss them for long.
In a desperate attempt to create a string of fear, six of the officers drew their pistols with one officer firing a live shot into the air. In its defence, the HKPF stated that the officers were “surrounded, under attacks and facing threats to life” and one officer fired “a warning shot to the sky without any other choices.”
The Sunday protest follows a long chain of protests in Hong Kong which began back in April when the Hong Kong government came up with a controversial extradition bill. The Bill, if enacted, will legalise the right of the local authorities to detain and extradite people wanted in territories that Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with, including mainland China and Taiwan. The Bill would not only bring Hong Kong’s population but also its visitors under mainland China’s jurisdiction undermining, in turn, the autonomy of the region and the rights of the citizens.
The protests has been escalating since then, with thousands of protesters joining in everyday. On June 12 when the Bill was scheduled for a second hearing in the Legislative Council, the protests took a fierce turn invoking harsh retaliatory action by the police. In order to curb the demonstration, the police used rubber bullets and tear gas against the protestors. This lead to a further rise in protesters demands and started off a full fledged movement for saving Hong Kong’s democracy.