Tens of thousands march against pro-Beijing extradition law
by Paul Wang

The protesters fear that dissidents will be extradited to China, with the risk of false trials, torture and the death penalty.  Yesterday was the largest demonstration since Occupy Central.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Tens of thousands of people took part in a march through the central streets of the island, from Wan Chai to Causeway Bay, to the government offices in Admiralty as a sign of their opposition to the ongoing changes in a  extradition law.

According to the police, only 22-23 thousand demonstrators participated.  Organizers claim there were 130,000 present.  In any case, it was the largest demonstration since Occupy Central and was organized by the Human Rights Front.

The law proposed by the government gives the chief executive the power to initiate a process of extradition of suspects to other countries with which Hong Kong has no formal agreements.  And the case of Chan Tong-kai, a 19-year-old accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend in Taiwan is cited.  In the absence of agreements with Taiwan, in Hong Kong Chan cannot be charged with murder.

But many in the area fear that this law could trigger a series of extraditions to popular China, where there is a chronic lack of respect for human rights.

Many demonstrators carried placards and shouted slogans against Carrie Lam, the current head of the executive, branded as too dominated by Beijing.

The government has often stated that it will not extradite anyone who risks capital punishment, or torture, or political charges to China.  But the demonstrators are not convinced and accuse Lam of having "betrayed" Hong Kong.

In the past, the area served as a passageway for many Chinese dissidents seeking freedom before being sent abroad as political refugees.

Since 1997 and the "return to the motherland", Beijing has been trying to influence the political and legislative situation in Hong Kong, failing in its promise that Hong Kong should be governed by the "one nation, two systems" principle, which should guarantee "a  high degree of autonomy" to the territory.