HONG KONG — Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Tuesday the effort to amend an extradition bill was dead, but it wasn’t clear if the legislation was being withdrawn as protesters have demanded.
Lam noted there were “lingering doubts about the government’s sincerity or worries whether the government will restart the process in the Legislative Council.” But she said at a news conference, “I reiterate here, there is no such plan. The bill is dead.”
Hundreds of thousands of people have protested in the territory for the past month against the extradition legislation and have expressed growing fear that Hong Kong was losing the freedoms guaranteed to it when the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.
In the most recent protest on Sunday, tens of thousands of people, chanting “Free Hong Kong” and some carrying British colonial-era flags, marched toward a high-speed railway station that connects Hong Kong to the mainland. They said they wanted to carry a peaceful protest message to people on the mainland, where state-run media have not covered the protests widely but have focused instead on clashes with police and property damage.
On July 1, the 22nd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover, a peaceful march drew hundreds of thousands of people but was overshadowed by an assault on the territory’s legislative building. A few hundred demonstrators shattered thick glass panels to enter the building and wreaked havoc for three hours, spray-painting slogans on the chamber walls, overturning furniture and damaging electronic voting and fire prevention systems.
Protesters also are demanding an independent investigation into a crackdown on June 12 demonstrations in which officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds blocking major streets.
Lam said Tuesday investigations would take place under the Department of Justice “in accordance with the evidence, the law and also the prosecution code.”