HONG-KONG Two million take to the streets in Hong Kong

On Sunday June 9th, one million people protested in Hong Kong against a draft bill that would authorise extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China.

In 1997, Hong Kong, a former British colony after the 19th century opium war, became part of the People’s Republic of China, which it is historically part of, with the status of Special Administrative Region.

On June 16 there were two million.
Two Chinese working class activists share their thoughts.

“We call on workers to stop work.”

Ming Lam – HKCTU (Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions) – speaks out.

If the bill is passed, it would make it possible for Hong Kong resident citizens to be judged in mainland China by tribunals directly submitted to the Beijing authorities. In mainland China, the judicial system is not independent. If extradition procedures were instituted, everyone would risk their human rights being violated. 

People suspected of committing offenses in mainland China, but who are Hong Kong residents today, could be sent to mainland China. It is common knowledge that they would be denied due process of law. This is one of Hong Kong workers’ major worries. Not only are activists concerned, but all those who work there. One has to understand that a decade or two ago in mainland China, corruption was rampant. This state of things is still a fact of life today. It is an everyday reality that any worker or small shopkeeper has to face … to secure such or such certificate or authorization or to go through the customs. Whether they want to or not, they have no option, they are compelled into “criminal action”. 

Contrary to what the government said when they announced a mere 240,000 protesters, over one million people swamped the streets. In the evening, the government published a communiqué in which they explained that they had heard the people’s concerns and had taken it into account by proposing amendments…. even before the protest took place. But we consider that those amendments are not enough. We want the bill withdrawn. It is to be moved at the Hong Kong legislative body on June 12th. 

This is why the HKCTU has called all its members to organise the protest. We are calling all workers to stop work and rally around the Legislative Council on that day. 

« The trade union confederation was the driving force”

Apo Leung, working class activist, member of the follow-up committee of the IWC (International Workers Committee), speaks out.

People took to the streets against this bill in huge numbers, way beyond what we had expected. This shows that the citizens of Hong Kong are very angry over this bill and strongly demand its cancellation, or postponement for further discussions. In any case, the Hong Kong government and, of course, the regime in Beijing are determined to have the bill passed during the coming legislative body sitting on June 12th. So we think protests and marches will increase in numbers and a strike is on the agenda. 

Many workers are taking part in this movement. Of course, many people, teachers, social workers, lawyers, housewives, youth. 

I was with them. We saw people of all ages, from every social origin. The HKCTU confederation was the driving force of the mobilisation and of all those demonstrations and will continue during the protests of the coming week. 

Due to censorship, we do not exactly know the impact of this action in mainland China but workers from mainland China did join the marches on June 4th (*) and June 9th. They surely will have to face the consequences when they go back to mainland China. 

The danger is that this law will provide for the possibility of arrests and trials in mainland China according to processes that are frightening – as we know that trials can be rigged. This is obvious with what recently happened to working class activists. Especially for the working class NGOs and social workers who work in Hong Kong and in mainland China itself. 

We are expecting declarations of solidarity from you to be addressed to the Hong Kong government. Spontaneous solidarity protests erupted in many cities all over the world. We would be very happy if there was one in Paris.  

(*) Anniversary of the slaughter of workers and students on Tien Anmen square on June 4th 1989