[Last update: June 16 19:35]
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — While another mass protest was staged on streets of Hong Kong on Sunday afternoon to call for the withdrawal of the contentious extradition bill, Taiwan-based Hong Kong students and residents, and civil groups from Taiwan rallied outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei to express their support for the demonstration.
By 3 p.m., the organizers said as many as 6,000 people had gathered on the street adjacent to Taiwan’s legislature. At the end of the rally, they said the number of the participants reached 10,000.
Demonstrators held card boards that read “No extradition to China,” “Taiwan supports Hong Kong,” and even “Opposing one China, opposing [cross-strait] peace agreements,” while chanting slogans in support of democracy and freedom in Mandarin and Cantonese.
Despite the sun beating down, many demonstrators were dressed in black in mourning for the Hong Kong protester who died on Saturday evening after falling from a tall building.
The organizers, which include the Extradition Law Concern Group of Hong Kong Students and Graduates in Taiwan, said the rally was meant to “show solidarity with the Hong Kong people and condemn the Hong Kong government’s brutal violation of human rights.”
The organizers demanded the withdrawal of the amendments to the extradition bill completely. The bill has been shelved for an indefinite period of time as Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam made the concession on Saturday afternoon. However, Lam continued to defend bill and refused to withdraw it.
In addition, the organizers condemned Hong Kong riot police’s violent suppression of peaceful demonstrators on June 12, which resulted in more than 70 people being injured. They asked the Hong Kong government to investigate law enforcement personnel who attacked the protesters and Lam to take full political responsibility for the conflicts between riot police and protesters.
Demonstrators also demanded that the Hong Kong government acknowledge that the mass protests on June 12 was not a ‘riot,’ as Lam had earlier described, and release detained students immediately without filing any charges against them.
In the meantime, the organizers urge Taiwan’s legislature, political parties, and presidential candidates to declare their opposition to the extradition bill proposed by the Hong Kong government.
In particular, they called for Taiwan’s legislature to pass a resolution during an interim session scheduled for next Monday, expressing its opposition to the extradition bill.
Furthermore, they asked the legislature to mull plans that would grant political asylum to Hong Kong or even Macau residents in response to the extradition legislation in case the bill would eventually be passed by the Beijing-controlled Hong Kong Legislative Council.
The extradition bill was criticized by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Thursday as both violating the human rights of Hong Kong citizens and undermining Taiwan’s national sovereignty. She said her administration will not accept such legislation pushed forward by the Hong Kong authorities.
Lawmakers from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and New Power Party (NPP), respectively Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) and Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), later joined the rally. They gave their oral support for the requests made to the legislature by the organizers.
During their remarks, both of them harshly criticized the deteriorating status of autonomy and freedom in Hong Kong in recent years, and the growing grip of Beijing on the territory’s politics and rule of law.
“Lam is Beijing’s puppet. Even if she steps down, the new chief executive will still be a puppet,” said Hsu, stressing that the people of Hong Kong deserve true suffrage so they can choose a leader on their own.
The organizers also condemned pro-China political parties, namely the Kuomintang (KMT) and the People First Party (PFP), for not expressing their opposition to the extradition bill, and taking part in the Strait Forum, which is currently held in China’s Fujian Province.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) has criticized the forum as being a tool for the Chinese government to promote its political agenda, including the “one country, two systems” formula for Taiwan, and political negotiations that risk compromising the country’s sovereignty.
Before the rally ended at around 5:30 p.m., demonstrators stood in silence for one minute in tribute to the Hong Kong protester who was killed the night before while protesting against the extradition bill.