Agency, 12 June : Thousands of protesters and police in Hong Kong are engaged in a standoff as anger grows over a bill which would allow extradition to mainland China. Early on Wednesday protesters, some wearing face masks and helmets, blocked key roads around government buildings.
Police in riot gear responded by using pepper spray on protesters to disperse them and said they were prepared to use force. The Legislative Council (LegCo) has now delayed the second reading of the bill.
The pro-Beijing LegCo released a statement on Wednesday saying that the meeting which was planned for 11:00 local time (03:00 GMT), would be “changed to a later time” adding that members would be notified of the time later.
Despite widespread opposition the government had said it will continue to push for extradition. A final vote is expected on 20 June with LegCo expected to pass the bill, Hong Kong media report.
In scenes resembling the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella movement, thousands of protesters – mostly young people and students – took to the streets and attempted to block access to government buildings ahead of the scheduled debate of the bill.
Critics of the bill of amendments to the extradition laws cite the alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions and forced confessions in the Chinese judicial system.
The government has promised legally binding human rights safeguards and other measures it says should alleviate concerns.
Nevertheless, this has led to the largest rallies the territory has seen since it was handed back to China by the British in 1997.
Police said they are also investigating death threats made against Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, and members of the justice department over the bill.
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