The 2019 Hong Kong protests, also known as the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill (or Anti-ELAB) movement, are an ongoing series of demonstrations in Hong Kong which were triggered by the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill by the Hong Kong government.
If enacted, the bill would have let local authorities detain and extradite criminal fugitives who are wanted in territories with which Hong Kong does not currently have extradition agreements, including Taiwan and mainland China. This created concerns that the bill would subject Hong Kong residents and visitors to the mainland Chinese jurisdiction and legal system, undermining the region’s autonomy and its civil liberties.
As the protests progressed, the protesters laid out five key demands, which include the withdrawal of the bill, investigation into alleged police brutality and misconduct, the release of arrested protesters, a complete retraction of the official characterisation of the protests as “riots”, and Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s resignation along with the introduction of universal suffrage for election of the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive.
The 2019 Hong Kong protests came four and a half years after the Umbrella Revolution, which began after the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) issued a decision regarding proposed reforms to the Hong Kong electoral system which were largely seen as restrictive. However, the movement ended in failure as the government offered no concessions. Since then, democratic development has stalled: only half of the seats in the Legislative Council remain directly elected, and the Chief Executive of Hong Kong continues to be voted by the small-circle Election Committee.
The 2017 imprisonment of Hong Kong democracy activists further dashed the city’s hope of meaningful political reform. Citizens began to fear the loss of the “high degree of autonomy” as provided for in the Hong Kong Basic Law, as the government of the People’s Republic of China appeared to be increasingly and overtly interfering with Hong Kong’s affairs. Notably, the Hong Kong Legislative Council oath-taking controversy ended with the disqualification of six lawmakers following a ruling by courts in Mainland China; the Causeway Bay Books disappearances sparked concerns over state-sanctioned rendition and extrajudicial detention.
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