Hundreds of Hong Kong protesters stormed the Parliament building on the anniversary of the city’s 1997 return to China, last evening, destroying pictures and painting walls with graffiti in a direct challenge to China as anger over an extradition bill spiraled out of control.
Police fired tear gas and retook Hong Kong’s government headquarters in the early hours of Tuesday (Jul 2). The protesters smashed through reinforced windows and steel shutters in unprecedented scenes that plunged the city further into crisis.
About a thousand gathered around the legislative council building in the heart of the former British colony’s financial district. Some sat at legislators’ desks, checking their phones. Occupying the building for about three hours, they destroyed portraits and defaced walls and furniture with graffiti as anger over a controversial extradition Bill boiled over.
The government called for an immediate end to the violence, saying it had stopped all work on extradition bill amendments and that the legislation would automatically lapse in July next year. Opponents of the extradition bill, which would allow people to be sent to mainland China for trial in courts controlled by the communist party, fear it is a threat to Hong Kong’s much-cherished rule of law.Hong Kong r
eturned to China under a “one country, two systems” formula that allows freedoms not enjoyed in mainland China, including freedom to protest and an independent judiciary. Beijing denies interfering but, for many Hong Kong residents, the extradition bill is the latest step in a relentless march towards mainland control.More than a million people have taken to the streets at times over the past three weeks to vent their anger.