Protesters have been flooding the streets for two months in an effort to kill the controversial extradition bill. In an effort to refocus dwindling international attention to their plight, the local citizenry have taken their effort to a new venue: the Hong Kong International Airport.
The extradition bill would provide a process by which Chinese mainland officials can, for certain types of alleged crimes, take Hong Kong citizens to the mainland for questioning, detention and trial. Its passage is seen by many as the end to Hong Kong’s semi-autonomy, as Chinese officials already stand accused of creating false charges and engaging in prisoner abuses. The expectation of the protesters is that China would use the new law to initiate crackdowns against any who speak against mainland policy.
The bill has been tabled but not withdrawn by Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam. Lam has instead used increasingly angry rhetoric against the masses, accusing them of wanting to destroy Hong Kong. As weeks have passed, police have been increasingly accused of excessive violence.
The initial demand, that the bill be pulled, has been joined by demands for the immediate resignation of Carrie Lam and an independent inquiry into police brutality during the protests.
The waning international attention has triggered the airport rallies, as the airports are where the largest concentration of international travelers are to be found. The protesters are planning to gather at the airport throughout the weekend.
The form of protest chosen is a traditional “sit-in”. Protesters have been encouraged to arrive with signs about their cause, and to sit politely on the floors. The focus is on being visible, not confrontational.