Hong Kong’s leader says the controversial extradition bill “dead,” in what appears to be a concession to the millions of protesters who flooded the city’s streets over the last month.
But activists have rejected the claim, promising they will continue to protest until the bill is withdrawn completely.
Hong Kong’s embattled chief executive Carrie Lam told a news conference Tuesday the bill been a “complete failure” and tried to reassure activists that it wouldn’t be re-introduced.
“There are still lingering doubts about the government's sincerity or worries whether the government will restart the process in the Legislative Council,” Lam told reporters. “So I reiterate here, there is no such plan. The bill is dead.”
Critics claim that, if passed, the law would allow Beijing to arbitrarily extradite suspected criminals to mainland China, where human rights abuses are rife and death sentences common.
Activists claim it is yet another sign of Beijing attempting to exert control over Hong Kong, in violation of the handover agreement signed with the U.K. in 1997.
Protests against the bill kicked off in early June, with the largest attracting over two million people, according to organizers. The protests continued even after Lam suspended the bill in mid-June, with some protests turning violent.
On July 1, protesters forced their way into the central chamber of Hong Kong's parliament after an hours-long siege, and the latest protest took place Sunday, with tens of thousands of people marching in Kowloon, an area of the city that’s popular with Chinese tourists.
Joshua Wong, the leader of the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, which brought the city to a standstill for 79 days in 2014, has rejected Lam’s words, claiming the bill remains in place.
“Carrie Lam saying ‘the Bill is dead’ is another ridiculous lie to the people of Hong Kong and foreign media because the bill still exists in the 'legislative programme' until July next year,” Wong tweeted on Tuesday.
Wong and his fellow protesters are demanding an independent investigation into police violence against protesters. They’re also demanding that police drop all charges against protesters, and, ultimately, the ouster of Lam and a vote to elect a new government.
Cover: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam pauses during a press conference in Hong Kong, Tuesday, July 9, 2019. Lam said Tuesday the effort to amend an extradition bill was dead, but it wasn't clear if the legislation was being withdrawn as protesters have demanded. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)