Protests have ravaged the city of Hong Kong since June, with increasingly violent friction festering between rebels and police.
The protests, sparked by a bill that would allow criminals within the city of Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China for trial, have no signs of slowing after five months of demonstration.
Though Hong Kong criminals would only face extradition under certain circumstances, the threat of extradition to mainland China was concerning to Hong Kong citizens.
Citizens of the city of Hong Kong are given rights such as freedom of speech and assembly, whereas China has been under communist rule for over 70 years and their citizens lack many basic human rights. Thus, trials in China put Hong Kong citizens at risk for unfair proceedings and violent treatment.
Contrary to popular belief, Hong Kong is actually starkly different from mainland China in both governmental structure and culture. Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, when it was returned to China, though the city remains autonomous from mainland China.
China introduced a “one country, two systems” arrangement after Hong Kong was reabsorbed, which allowed for the independence and the rights of Hong Kong citizens, while keeping those within mainland China under the grasp of communist control. Hong Kong maintains its own judiciary system and a separate legal system from mainland China.
These freedoms, otherwise known as the Basic Law within Hong Kong, are set to expire in 2047, and the fate of Hong Kong’s government after that date is unknown.
The protests have resulted in injuries to both protestors and policemen, with some officers firing live bullets into demonstrations of protest. Other violent acts of the protests have included lighting people on fire and stabbings.
After weeks of protest, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam suspended the bill indefinitely in June. Fearing that the bill would be revived, protestors demanded that the bill be withdrawn entirely. Finally in September, the bill was withdrawn, though protestors saw this victory as “too little too late.”
The protesters have outlined five demands and vow to continue their demonstrations until each have been met. These demands include: amnesty for arrested protestors and an inquiry into police brutality within the city.
Rallies in support of the protestors have taken place in countries including: the U.S., France, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, though many of these demonstrations have been met with pro-Beijing rallies.
Despite these protests being heavily reported by global media outlets for months, many citizens outside of Hong Kong lack an understanding of the purpose of these demonstrations. The rights of 7.3 million Hong Kong citizens are at stake, and many countries seem largely apathetic to their woes. Sure, demonstrations have taken place in support of the protestors, though they seem few and far between.
American citizens seem to take basic rights of freedom of religion, speech and assembly for granted, though many people throughout the globe must battle to maintain or live entirely without these basic rights.
As these protests continue to rage five months after the initial proposal of the bill, demonstrators show no signs of stopping. Rebels should execute their demonstrations in a peaceful manner and we should respect them in their battle to ensure basic rights.