All sides should learn from year of protest, Hong Kong leader says

Carrie Lam and Hong Kong

A year on from the start of Hong Kong’s anti-government protests, the leader of the semi-autonomous Chinese city said all sides should learn from the difficulties and challenging times of the past 12 months.

Everyone has to learn their lesson, including the Hong Kong government,” Carrie Lam told reporters before a weekly meeting with advisers.

Hong Kong cannot bear that kind of chaos, and the people of Hong Kong want a stable and peaceful environment to be able to live and work here happily.”

Ms Lam did not elaborate on what lessons should have been learned.

Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of the first large-scale protest against a proposed extradition Bill that would have allowed people in the former British colony, which has its own legal system, to be sent to mainland China to stand trial.

Organisers said the turnout was more than one million people, while police estimated it was a crowd of 240,000.

The mass protest on June 9 last year has been etched in the collective memory of Hongkongers,” the Civil Human Rights Front, which organized the event, wrote in a Facebook post. “It also marks the beginning of our togetherness in defending our beloved city.”

The march through central Hong Kong was the start of a pro-democracy movement that saw protesters break into the legislative building and take to the streets every weekend for months, even after the extradition Bill was withdrawn.

At times, violent clashes broke out between protesters and the police, leading to accusations of police brutality and sparking protester demands for an independent inquiry into police behaviour.

Hong Kong saw a lull in protests during the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, but as infections have ebbed, protesters have returned to the street to demonstrate against an imminent national security law for Hong Kong as well as a recently approved Bill that makes it illegal to insult the Chinese national anthem.

Critics and protesters say that the national security law is a blow to the “one country, two systems” framework following the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997, which promised the city freedoms not found on the mainland.

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