‘It belongs to us’: Young protesters storm Hong Kong’s legislature 22 years after takeover

by WorldTribune Staff, July 1, 2019

An army of primarily young demonstrators smashed entrance glass windows, stormed and then occupied Hong Kong’s legislature on July 1, the anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese sovereignty.

Another 550,000 protesters jammed the city’s streets as what started as a protest over legislation that would allow Hong Kong residents to be extradited to mainland China has turned into a broader repudiation of Communist Chinese rule.

Protesters smash window at Hong Kong’s legislature on the anniversary of the former British colony’s turnover to China. / Video image.

“I don’t think this place belongs to the government or any political party,” Karen, a third-year college student, told the Wall Street Journal. “It belongs to us.”

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam sought to pass legislation — since put on hold — allowing suspects to be extradited to China, which has a far more opaque legal system.

In a speech on July 1, Lam vowed conciliation and said she would “actively reach out to young people of different backgrounds.” Last week, she signaled support for police in a statement. She has resisted calls to resign. Her appearance on July 1 was the first in more than a week since she apologized for her handling of the bill.

The Union Jack was lowered 22 years ago and the Chinese flag hoisted, ending more than a century and a half of British rule in Hong Kong.

The protest at Hong Kong government headquarters involved mostly young activists who broke windows and defaced the legislative chamber. They described their rampage as a last-ditch effort to force the government to accede in a standoff over the city’s future, the Wall Street Journal report said.

“On television screens in the chamber’s cafeteria, yellow-helmeted protesters watched scenes of their occupation live on the news. Before their siege began, police had used pepper spray and batons to beat back hundreds of protesters, who gathered before dawn, trying to disrupt an annual flag-raising ceremony Monday morning,” the report said.

Protesters want the extradition bill to be formally thrown out and they want Lam to resign. They also want police to answer for violently dispersing a demonstration on June 12.

Organizers said there were few signs that the government intended to budge.

“This is our best effort to secure our freedom,” Bosco, a 22-year-old student, told the Journal.

As he spoke, his phone rang. He glanced at it. “My mom is calling me and telling me to leave right away,” he said. He took the call and told her he was going to stay a while longer.

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