In the biggest demonstration since 2014, thousands took to the streets against proposed extradition rules that would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial. Protesters fear for the city's core freedoms.
Thousands of people walked peacefully for more than three hours through the shopping and business districts of Causeway Bay and Wanchai on Sunday, some with placards addressing the Chinese leader: "President Xi Jinping, no legalized kidnapping of Hong Kong people to China."
Police put the number of those attending at 22,000, and organizers said there were 130,000. This would make it the largest rally since the 2014 Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests.
Former legislator Leung Kwok-hung said the proposed law would remove Hong Kong's "freedom from fear."
"Hong Kong people and visitors passing by Hong Kong will lose their right not to be extradited into mainland China," Leung said. "They would need to face an unjust legal system on the mainland."
Extradition to China within a year
In the second protest in a month, some protesters called for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to step down, saying she had "betrayed" the city.
The freedoms were guaranteed when former colonial power the United Kingdom handed Hong Kong over to China as a special administrative region in 1997.
Under the proposed changes, which could become law within the year, Lam would have the right to order the extradition of individuals to China, Macau and Taiwan as well as other countries not covered by Hong Kong's existing extradition treaties.
Under pressure from local businesses, the administration exempted nine commercial crimes and also said that no one would be extradited if there was a risk of the death penalty, torture or a political charge.
Britain's last governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, said the proposed law was an "assault on Hong Kong's values, stability and security."
Protesting jail terms
There was anger among the crowd at the sentencing of four prominent leaders of Hong Kong's democracy movement for their role in organizing the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests.
One of the protesters told Agence France-Presse it was "heartbreaking" to see the activists jailed. "They are professors, highly knowledgeable people contributing to society."
jm/amp (Reuters, AFP)