Hong Kong re-opens government offices after mass protest
Hong Kong — Hong Kong re-opened government offices that had been blocked off after an historic protest on Sunday calling for leader Carrie Lam to resign over a bill allowing extraditions to China for the first time.
The government announced earlier in the day that roads near the central government offices, which is next to Lam’s office, had “generally become accessible” and urged staff to return to work.
Lam is under pressure to resign after hundreds of thousands of protesters wearing black flooded central Hong Kong on Sunday, prompting her to issue a statement apologising for causing “substantial controversies and disputes in society.” Still, China said on Monday it continues to “firmly support” Lam and her government.
Protest leaders want Lam to withdraw the extradition bill and resign from office. The dispute has attracted attention around the globe to the embarrassment of China: Beijing has blamed foreigners for provoking the protests, and urged other nations to stop getting involved in what it regards as a domestic issue.
Hong Kong’s police on Monday evening softened their categorisation of June 12’s clashes with protesters near the city’s legislative building as a “riot”, which has legal ramifications. Dropping the description was among the major demands of Sunday’s demonstration.
Only people who threw bricks and wielded metal poles against police officers might have committed riot offences, police commissioner Stephen Lo told reporters.
“Others who have participated in the same public order event but have not engaged in any violent act need not to worry about committing rioting offences,” Lo said. He added that only five people had been arrested on riot-related offences and that most protesters were “peaceful”.
Lo last week classified afternoon clashes outside the legislative council as rioting. Lam herself used the term in a video statement released by the government.