Hong Kong Canadian activists in Vancouver are vowing to keep up their pressure on their homeland’s government after it voted to suspend — but not toss out — a proposed extradition bill.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced Saturday that her government would temporarily suspend the controversial proposal in an effort to quell widespread anger and violent protests that have rocked the semi-autonomous Chinese territory throughout the past week.
WATCH: Hong Kong leader suspends extradition bill after widespread protests
Dozens of people lined up outside the Chinese consulate on Vancouver’s Granville Street shortly after Lam announced the suspension, decrying the police’s treatment of protesters and calling for the bill to be rejected completely.
“It isn’t good enough,” Mabel Tung, chair of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement (VSSDM), said about the suspension.
Tung joined over a hundred Hong Kong Canadians outside the consulate last Saturday, which saw the first wave of protests in Hong Kong against the government.
The proposed law would make it easier under the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance to allow some suspects to face trial in mainland Chinese courts.
Critics say the amendment would undermine Hong Kong’s judicial independence, which it has enjoyed since securing its semi-autonomous status during its handover from British rule to China in 1997.
About 80 people were hurt during violent demonstrations in central Hong Kong earlier in the week. More than 20 of them were police, who used rubber bullets and tear gas on protesters.
Lam said the decision to suspend the bill was mainly to restore safety and peace in the territory, and apologized for not doing enough to win over the public. But she insisted the bill is still needed and vowed to work on securing support.
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Tung said it’s more important than ever for the international community to stick together and show Hong Kong they’re behind the protesters.
“What’s happening in Hong Kong is very upsetting,” she said. “The government is not listening to the people’s voice, Lam isn’t listening to them and doesn’t have their interests.”
Natalie Woo, another member of the VSSDM, said she’s worried the law would allow anyone travelling through Hong Kong, not just citizens, to be arrested and sent to Beijing.
“It’s not so much about the extradition itself, but that no one in Hong Kong or even globally can trust the justice system in China,” she said. “We don’t believe those people would have a fair trial.”
She added Lam’s actions have proven her government can no longer be taken in good faith by its people.
The unrest caused by the announcement of the bill has sent ripple effects across Canada, which boasts roughly 200,000 immigrants from Hong Kong according to the 2016 census, and around the world.
Global Affairs Canada estimates roughly 300,000 Canadians call Hong Kong home, but it’s not clear how many are based in B.C.
Experts have predicted a “mass migration” of those permanent residents back to Canada if the law comes into effect.
Protesters in Hong Kong, meanwhile, say they plan to hold further demonstrations against the bill on Sunday. They’re also calling for Lam to resign.
—With files from Global’s Nadia Stewart and the Associated Press