Agency, 9 June : Thousands of people were gathering in Hong Kong on Sunday to protest against a proposed extradition law that would allow suspects to be sent to China to face trial, with police bracing for the biggest march in the city in 15 years.
Police chiefs called for public restraint, government-funded broadcaster RTHK reported, as they mobilized more than 2,000 officers for a march that organizers expect to draw more than 500,000 people.
That would make it the biggest rally since a similar number turned out in 2003 to challenge government plans for tighter national security laws, which were later shelved.
Opposition to the proposed bill has united a broad range of the community, from usually pro-establishment business people and lawyers to students, pro-democracy figures and religious groups.
“I come here to fight,” said a wheelchair bound 78-year-old man, surnamed Lai, who was among the first to arrive at Victoria Park before the start of the march at 3 pm (0700 GMT).
“It may be useless, no matter how many people are here. We have no enough power to resist as Hong Kong government is supported by the mainland,” said Lai, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
The marchers will slowly make their way through the crowded Causeway Bay and Wanchai shopping and residential districts to Hong Kong’s parliament, where debates will start on Wednesday into government’s amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.
The changes will simplify case-by-case arrangements to allow extradition of wanted suspects to countries, including mainland China, Macau and Taiwan, beyond the 20 that Hong Kong already has extradition treaties with.
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