How strangers mobilised against Hong Kong police

Tens of thousands of protesters took to Hong Kong’s streets on 12 June in opposition to a bill that would allow extradition to mainland China.

The demonstrators, most of them young people, have said they had not planned their movements in advance, but began cooperating on the ground as they came under pressure to disperse from security forces.

The BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes and cameraman Joe Phua were there as the clashes began and saw the spontaneous coordination in action.

Ek Resimler:

China’s history of extraordinary rendition

Image copyright Getty Images

Proposed amendments to Hong Kong’s extradition laws have sparked protests. They follow a number of reports of extraordinary rendition of opponents of Beijing being taken to China for trials.

Almost exactly three years ago Hong Kong was in uproar over the detention of five local booksellers in mainland China.

From a small bookshop in the bustling Causeway Bay district, they had been selling bawdy political satire about China’s rulers.

Some of them had been paraded on Chinese state television confessing to crimes of “illegal trading”.

Four had reportedly been detained while travelling in the country, but one was said to have been in Thailand when he disappeared.

That immediately raised fears that he had been illegally removed by Chinese agents.

When another of the booksellers was released on bail he returned to Hong Kong. He said he had been forced to make the confession, and would refuse to return to China to face charges.

Hong Kong has its own police force and Chinese law enforcement agencies have no jurisdiction in the former British colony as part of an agreement that saw the city’s handover to Chinese rule in 1997.

Hong Kong’s former security chief Lai Tung-Kwok was very clear on the territory’s position at the time: “There is no legal arrangement for the transfer of a person to the mainland authorities and the Hong Kong government will handle all cases in accordance with the law of Hong Kong,” he told reporters in July 2016.

Now, Hong Kong’s government is pushing forward with a highly controversial plan to allow some extraditions to mainland China.

Critics say the proposed amendments will expose anyone in the former British colony to China’s deeply flawed justice system, but the government argues safeguards are in place to address such fears.

China has always denied allegations that it has “kidnapped” people it considers fugitives, but this remains one factor in the huge opposition to the bill and several notorious cases have fuelled such fears.

Gui Minhai

The most high profile of the Hong Kong booksellers, Gui Minhai, made headlines when he vanished in Thailand in 2015, before reappearing in China where he was detained over a fatal car accident that took place in 2003.

Mr Gui was one of the several owners of the Causeway Bay Bookstore in Hong Kong, which sold books critical of the Chinese government.

All the other booksellers who used to work at the book shop also disappeared and eventually resurfaced in Chinese custody.

Mr Gui is a Swedish citizen, and Sweden quickly sent detectives to Thailand to help look into his disappearance.

China’s state broadcaster later aired footage of Mr Gui’s “confession”, where he said he voluntarily returned to China to turn himself in over the accident. But critics say they suspect Mr Gui was forced into making the confession under pressure.

Hong Kong’s missing booksellers and ‘banned’ Xi Jinping book
Hong Kong bookstore disappearances shock publishing industry

A Chinese court sentenced him to two years in prison over the car accident.

He was released in 2017, only to be detained again the following year when travelling to Shanghai under the escort of two Swedish diplomats. He has not been seen in public since.

Mr Gui’s daughter Angela has been campaigning for her father’s release, culminating in a meeting in Stockholm earlier this year between her, the Swedish ambassador to China at the time, Anna Lindstedt, and “a group of Chinese businessmen”.

She said one of the businessmen put pressure on her to accept a deal where her father would go to trial and might be sentenced to “a few years” in prison, and in return she would stop all publicity around her father’s detention. Nothing came to fruition after the meeting and Sweden dismissed Ms Lindstedt for organising it.

Xiao Jianhua

The Chinese billionaire had been staying at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel on Hong Kong island before he disappeared early one winter morning in 2017.

Mr Xiao started his career in the 1990s selling personal computers after graduating from Peking University.

The Financial Times reports he built strong connections with families of Communist leaders after he sided with the party against student protests in Beijing in 1989. By 2016, his net worth had grown to $6bn (£4.7bn).

His family filed a missing person’s report with Hong Kong authorities after he disappeared but cancelled it a day later, saying they had “regained contact” with Mr Xiao.

The mystery of a Chinese tycoon’s disappearance

Hong Kong police said surveillance footage at the scene showed Mr Xiao did not leave the hotel under distress, but refused to release the footage.

Mr Xiao later issued a statement saying he was receiving medical treatment abroad. He also praised the “rule of law” in the Chinese government and that he was not kidnapped and taken to the Chinese mainland.

It has been suggested he was wanted for financial fraud, but China has not given a definitive explanation.

Wang Bingzhang

Mr Wang is best known for founding the China Democracy Party in 1998, which denounced one-party rule in China.

He travelled to Vietnam in 2002 to meet local Chinese union leaders before he disappeared.

Chinese police said they found the activist in the border region of Guangxi later in the year. Media reports at the time suggested kidnappers in Vietnam took him to Guangxi, where he was formally arrested.

Human Rights Watch said Mr Wang was “abducted” in Vietnam and taken to China, where he was found guilty of terrorism and spying for Taiwan and given a life sentence.

Taiwan’s intelligence agencies deny they had recruited Mr Wang to spy for them.

Mr Wang’s daughter, who holds a Canadian passport, has repeatedly but unsuccessfully tried to visit her father in prison. After her latest attempt earlier this year, she said Chinese immigration officials denied her entry into the country at an airport in eastern China, even though she had a valid visa.

Peng Ming

Mr Peng was jailed twice in China, first in 1999 and then in 2005, before he died in prison in 2016 under questionable circumstances.

He fled China in 2001 for the US and founded a movement for the end of one-party rule in China. His movement, the China Federal Interim Committee, aimed at uniting anti-communist forces and reforming China under a federation.

According to Amnesty International, he was lured to Burma (now called Myanmar), kidnapped there and taken to China in 2004. He was convicted of possession of counterfeit currency and was jailed for life.

Prison authorities said Mr Peng suddenly fell while watching television and died at the hospital. However, his family has suspected foul play as no post mortem examination was ever performed.

Ek Resimler:

HK protesters vow to push ahead with mass rally

Image copyright EPA

Protesters in Hong Kong have vowed to push ahead with a rally on Sunday, despite the government’s decision to suspend its controversial bill to allow extradition to mainland China.

Protest leaders urged Chief Executive Carrie Lam to resign and permanently scrap the plan.

The proposed bill led to mass demonstrations and sparked some of the worst violence seen in years.

Protesters are concerned at increased influence by Beijing in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is a former British colony, but was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” deal that guarantees it a level of autonomy.

All you need to know about the protests
Hong Kong-China extradition plans explained
Will the bill damage Hong Kong’s star status?

Jimmy Sham, from protest group the Civil Human Rights Front, said Sunday’s rally would go ahead as planned, likening the announced suspension to a “knife” that had been plunged into the city.

“It’s almost reached our heart. Now the government said they won’t push it, but they also refuse to pull it out,” he said.

Ms Lam said she had heard the calls for her government to “pause and think”.

“I feel deep sorrow and regret that deficiencies in our work – and various other factors – have stirred up substantial controversies,” she added.

She said that the urgency felt to pass the bill before the legislative year ends “perhaps no longer exists”.

But she stopped short of saying the bill would be permanently shelved.

The government had argued the proposed extradition bill would “plug the loopholes” so that the city would not be a safe haven for criminals, following a murder case in Taiwan.

Critics have said the legislation would expose people in Hong Kong to China’s deeply flawed justice system and lead to further erosion of the city’s judicial independence.

‘Striking U-turn’

Analysis by Helier Cheung, BBC News, Hong Kong

It was a striking U-turn from a leader who previously struck a defiant tone.

Mere days ago, Ms Lam had vowed to press ahead with the unpopular legislation – now she has promised to “listen to different views from society”.

But for many protesters, the damage has already been done, and the move to delay – but not cancel – the legislation is unlikely to assuage their concerns.

One protester told me he believed the government was “trying to divert attention away until opposition calms down – and then they’ll try to re-do the whole process again”.

Others said they would still take part in a march against the proposal planned for Sunday.

“Our final goal is to cancel the law, not to pause it. I think there will still be many people coming out tomorrow,” a student leader told me.

China’s foreign ministry publicly backed Ms Lam after her announcement.

Profile: Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong

“The Chinese Central Government expresses its support, respect and understanding for the [Hong Kong] government’s decision,” spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.

Amid the international debate on Hong Kong, he also warned that its “affairs are purely China’s internal affairs that brook no interference from any country, organization or individual”.

What was the controversy about?

The changes would allow for criminal extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau – decided on a case-by-case basis by Hong Kong courts.

Hong Kong officials, including Ms Lam, say the bill is necessary to protect the city against criminals.

But many fear the law could be used to target political opponents of the Chinese state.

Opposition activists also cite the alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions and forced confessions in mainland China.

It comes after a high-profile case where a Hong Kong man was accused of murdering his girlfriend on holiday in Taiwan but could not be extradited.

Yet Taiwanese officials are against the changes – due to their own concerns about the impact they could have.

Taiwan is in effect independent, but China considers it a breakaway province.

The government there has even said it would not accept the extradition of the accused man if it was under the proposed new rules.

How did protests unfold?

A large-scale march, which organisers said drew more than one million people, was held last Sunday.

Then on Wednesday tens of thousands gathered to blockade streets around government headquarters to try to stop the second reading, or debate, of the extradition bill.

Tensions boiled over and 22 police and 60 protesters were injured.

Authorities say 11 people were arrested.

The police, who used tear gas and rubber bullets, have been accused of excessive force by some rights groups.

Until Saturday’s announcement, Ms Lam had not spoken publicly since she labelled the protests “organised riots” during a tearful address.

Is Hong Kong part of China?

Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841, when China ceded the island to the British after the First Opium War – which had erupted over British traders smuggling opium into China. It remained a colony until sovereignty was returned to China in 1997.

It is now part of China under a “one country, two systems” principle, which ensures that it keeps its own judicial independence, its own legislature and economic system.

Beijing’s struggle to win Hong Kong’s young hearts
The Hong Kong handover in a nutshell
A timeline of Hong Kong’s history

It is what China calls a special administrative region – enjoying a great deal of autonomy that has made it a key business and media hub in the region.

But it remains subject to pressure from mainland China, and Beijing remains responsible for defence and foreign affairs.

Ek Resimler:

China’s history of extraordinary rendition

Image copyright Getty Images

Proposed amendments to Hong Kong’s extradition laws have sparked protests. They follow a number of reports of extraordinary rendition of opponents of Beijing being taken to China for trials.

Almost exactly three years ago Hong Kong was in uproar over the detention of five local booksellers in mainland China.

From a small bookshop in the bustling Causeway Bay district, they had been selling bawdy political satire about China’s rulers.

Some of them had been paraded on Chinese state television confessing to crimes of “illegal trading”.

Four had reportedly been detained while travelling in the country, but one was said to have been in Thailand when he disappeared.

That immediately raised fears that he had been illegally removed by Chinese agents.

When another of the booksellers was released on bail he returned to Hong Kong. He said he had been forced to make the confession, and would refuse to return to China to face charges.

Hong Kong has its own police force and Chinese law enforcement agencies have no jurisdiction in the former British colony as part of an agreement that saw the city’s handover to Chinese rule in 1997.

Hong Kong’s former security chief Lai Tung-Kwok was very clear on the territory’s position at the time: “There is no legal arrangement for the transfer of a person to the mainland authorities and the Hong Kong government will handle all cases in accordance with the law of Hong Kong,” he told reporters in July 2016.

Now, Hong Kong’s government is pushing forward with a highly controversial plan to allow some extraditions to mainland China.

Critics say the proposed amendments will expose anyone in the former British colony to China’s deeply flawed justice system, but the government argues safeguards are in place to address such fears.

China has always denied allegations that it has “kidnapped” people it considers fugitives, but this remains one factor in the huge opposition to the bill and several notorious cases have fuelled such fears.

Gui Minhai

The most high profile of the Hong Kong booksellers, Gui Minhai, made headlines when he vanished in Thailand in 2015, before reappearing in China where he was detained over a fatal car accident that took place in 2003.

Mr Gui was one of the several owners of the Causeway Bay Bookstore in Hong Kong, which sold books critical of the Chinese government.

All the other booksellers who used to work at the book shop also disappeared and eventually resurfaced in Chinese custody.

Mr Gui is a Swedish citizen, and Sweden quickly sent detectives to Thailand to help look into his disappearance.

China’s state broadcaster later aired footage of Mr Gui’s “confession”, where he said he voluntarily returned to China to turn himself in over the accident. But critics say they suspect Mr Gui was forced into making the confession under pressure.

Hong Kong’s missing booksellers and ‘banned’ Xi Jinping book
Hong Kong bookstore disappearances shock publishing industry

A Chinese court sentenced him to two years in prison over the car accident.

He was released in 2017, only to be detained again the following year when travelling to Shanghai under the escort of two Swedish diplomats. He has not been seen in public since.

Mr Gui’s daughter Angela has been campaigning for her father’s release, culminating in a meeting in Stockholm earlier this year between her, the Swedish ambassador to China at the time, Anna Lindstedt, and “a group of Chinese businessmen”.

She said one of the businessmen put pressure on her to accept a deal where her father would go to trial and might be sentenced to “a few years” in prison, and in return she would stop all publicity around her father’s detention. Nothing came to fruition after the meeting and Sweden dismissed Ms Lindstedt for organising it.

Xiao Jianhua

The Chinese billionaire had been staying at the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel on Hong Kong island before he disappeared early one winter morning in 2017.

Mr Xiao started his career in the 1990s selling personal computers after graduating from Peking University.

The Financial Times reports he built strong connections with families of Communist leaders after he sided with the party against student protests in Beijing in 1989. By 2016, his net worth had grown to $6bn (£4.7bn).

His family filed a missing person’s report with Hong Kong authorities after he disappeared but cancelled it a day later, saying they had “regained contact” with Mr Xiao.

The mystery of a Chinese tycoon’s disappearance

Hong Kong police said surveillance footage at the scene showed Mr Xiao did not leave the hotel under distress, but refused to release the footage.

Mr Xiao later issued a statement saying he was receiving medical treatment abroad. He also praised the “rule of law” in the Chinese government and that he was not kidnapped and taken to the Chinese mainland.

It has been suggested he was wanted for financial fraud, but China has not given a definitive explanation.

Wang Bingzhang

Mr Wang is best known for founding the China Democracy Party in 1998, which denounced one-party rule in China.

He travelled to Vietnam in 2002 to meet local Chinese union leaders before he disappeared.

Chinese police said they found the activist in the border region of Guangxi later in the year. Media reports at the time suggested kidnappers in Vietnam took him to Guangxi, where he was formally arrested.

Human Rights Watch said Mr Wang was “abducted” in Vietnam and taken to China, where he was found guilty of terrorism and spying for Taiwan and given a life sentence.

Taiwan’s intelligence agencies deny they had recruited Mr Wang to spy for them.

Mr Wang’s daughter, who holds a Canadian passport, has repeatedly but unsuccessfully tried to visit her father in prison. After her latest attempt earlier this year, she said Chinese immigration officials denied her entry into the country at an airport in eastern China, even though she had a valid visa.

Peng Ming

Mr Peng was jailed twice in China, first in 1999 and then in 2005, before he died in prison in 2016 under questionable circumstances.

He fled China in 2001 for the US and founded a movement for the end of one-party rule in China. His movement, the China Federal Interim Committee, aimed at uniting anti-communist forces and reforming China under a federation.

According to Amnesty International, he was lured to Burma (now called Myanmar), kidnapped there and taken to China in 2004. He was convicted of possession of counterfeit currency and was jailed for life.

Prison authorities said Mr Peng suddenly fell while watching television and died at the hospital. However, his family has suspected foul play as no post mortem examination was ever performed.

Ek Resimler:

HK protesters vow to push ahead with mass rally

Image copyright EPA

Protesters in Hong Kong have vowed to push ahead with a rally on Sunday, despite the government’s decision to suspend its controversial bill to allow extradition to mainland China.

Protest leaders urged Chief Executive Carrie Lam to resign and permanently scrap the plan.

The proposed bill led to mass demonstrations and sparked some of the worst violence seen in years.

Protesters are concerned at increased influence by Beijing in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is a former British colony, but was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” deal that guarantees it a level of autonomy.

All you need to know about the protests
Hong Kong-China extradition plans explained
Will the bill damage Hong Kong’s star status?

Jimmy Sham, from protest group the Civil Human Rights Front, said Sunday’s rally would go ahead as planned, likening the announced suspension to a “knife” that had been plunged into the city.

“It’s almost reached our heart. Now the government said they won’t push it, but they also refuse to pull it out,” he said.

Ms Lam said she had heard the calls for her government to “pause and think”.

“I feel deep sorrow and regret that deficiencies in our work – and various other factors – have stirred up substantial controversies,” she added.

She said that the urgency felt to pass the bill before the legislative year ends “perhaps no longer exists”.

But she stopped short of saying the bill would be permanently shelved.

The government had argued the proposed extradition bill would “plug the loopholes” so that the city would not be a safe haven for criminals, following a murder case in Taiwan.

Critics have said the legislation would expose people in Hong Kong to China’s deeply flawed justice system and lead to further erosion of the city’s judicial independence.

‘Striking U-turn’

Analysis by Helier Cheung, BBC News, Hong Kong

It was a striking U-turn from a leader who previously struck a defiant tone.

Mere days ago, Ms Lam had vowed to press ahead with the unpopular legislation – now she has promised to “listen to different views from society”.

But for many protesters, the damage has already been done, and the move to delay – but not cancel – the legislation is unlikely to assuage their concerns.

One protester told me he believed the government was “trying to divert attention away until opposition calms down – and then they’ll try to re-do the whole process again”.

Others said they would still take part in a march against the proposal planned for Sunday.

“Our final goal is to cancel the law, not to pause it. I think there will still be many people coming out tomorrow,” a student leader told me.

China’s foreign ministry publicly backed Ms Lam after her announcement.

Profile: Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong

“The Chinese Central Government expresses its support, respect and understanding for the [Hong Kong] government’s decision,” spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement.

Amid the international debate on Hong Kong, he also warned that its “affairs are purely China’s internal affairs that brook no interference from any country, organization or individual”.

What was the controversy about?

The changes would allow for criminal extradition requests from authorities in mainland China, Taiwan and Macau – decided on a case-by-case basis by Hong Kong courts.

Hong Kong officials, including Ms Lam, say the bill is necessary to protect the city against criminals.

But many fear the law could be used to target political opponents of the Chinese state.

Opposition activists also cite the alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions and forced confessions in mainland China.

It comes after a high-profile case where a Hong Kong man was accused of murdering his girlfriend on holiday in Taiwan but could not be extradited.

Yet Taiwanese officials are against the changes – due to their own concerns about the impact they could have.

Taiwan is in effect independent, but China considers it a breakaway province.

The government there has even said it would not accept the extradition of the accused man if it was under the proposed new rules.

How did protests unfold?

A large-scale march, which organisers said drew more than one million people, was held last Sunday.

Then on Wednesday tens of thousands gathered to blockade streets around government headquarters to try to stop the second reading, or debate, of the extradition bill.

Tensions boiled over and 22 police and 60 protesters were injured.

Authorities say 11 people were arrested.

The police, who used tear gas and rubber bullets, have been accused of excessive force by some rights groups.

Until Saturday’s announcement, Ms Lam had not spoken publicly since she labelled the protests “organised riots” during a tearful address.

Is Hong Kong part of China?

Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841, when China ceded the island to the British after the First Opium War – which had erupted over British traders smuggling opium into China. It remained a colony until sovereignty was returned to China in 1997.

It is now part of China under a “one country, two systems” principle, which ensures that it keeps its own judicial independence, its own legislature and economic system.

Beijing’s struggle to win Hong Kong’s young hearts
The Hong Kong handover in a nutshell
A timeline of Hong Kong’s history

It is what China calls a special administrative region – enjoying a great deal of autonomy that has made it a key business and media hub in the region.

But it remains subject to pressure from mainland China, and Beijing remains responsible for defence and foreign affairs.

Ek Resimler:

‘My parents wanted me to marry. I became a DJ’

Women DJs are a still rare in India’s nightlife. Photographer Sayan Hazra captures a day in the life of Puja Seth, one of few women spinning discs in the southern city of Bangalore.

“I love to see people enjoy my music. For me, it’s a type of freedom – it lets me express myself to the world,” says 31-year-old Ms Seth.

She started DJ-ing in 2014 in Bangalore, commonly referred to as the country’s “pub capital”, is known for its vibrant music and bar culture. Over the years, bars and pubs have expanded beyond the city centre, cropping up in older, even residential, neighbourhoods.

“When I started playing at clubs, I met female DJs who would visit Bangalore from other cities around the world for gigs – but as far as I knew, there was no one who lived in Bangalore doing the job.”

In fact, she adds, after a few gigs she was known as Bangalore’s “native female DJ”.

But her journey hasn’t been easy. Born in a village in eastern India to conservative parents, Ms Seth says she always wanted to work.

“My parents have always wanted me to get married – but I never wanted to do that.”

Once she finished high school, she decided to run away from home and “follow her dream”.

“In my community, women aren’t allowed to work – and many of them don’t move out on their own unless they get married. So I knew I had to leave.”

Her hunt for a job brought her to Bangalore where she started working as an air stewardess.

That’s when she went to a party for the first time.

“The first thing I noticed was the DJ and I remember being so impressed,” she says.

After that, she knew what she wanted to do.

“I made friends with some DJs in the city who taught me the basics. The rest I learnt from watching YouTube videos.”

Ms Seth has played at more than 450 gigs across India over the last five years.

“I had never even seen women drinking and smoking in my village – and now I play for large crowds of people who do that around me and I don’t blink.”

Despite the glamour, she says, DJ-ing as a woman isn’t without its risks: “People keep saying this profession is not for women.”

“In clubs, people get drunk and think they can approach me. Often, they ask for my phone number. And sometimes, its hard to ignore them and do my job – but I get help from the bouncers.”

But she hasn’t let any of that stop her.

“The best thing about my job is making the audience dance, to watch them connect with the music like I do. People come to my gigs for that feeling.”

All photographs by Sayan Hazra

Ek Resimler:

Seven die cleaning sewer in India

Image copyright AFP

Seven people have died whilst cleaning a hotel sewer in western India, according to local police.

The four sanitation workers and three staff at Darshsan Hotel fell unconscious and died on Friday night after inhaling toxic fumes.

Their bodies have been recovered in the village of Fartikui, and the hotel owner has been charged over the deaths.

Gujarati authorities have pledged financial assistance to the victims’ next of kin.

According to police, the incident began after one sanitary worker entered the septic tank. When he did not return from the tank or respond to calls, his three colleagues went in to find him.

India’s sewer workers risking their lives

Later, when none of the four had come out, three hotel staff went in to help them, but they too fell unconscious and died.

After all seven went missing, local emergency services pulled their bodies out in a three-hour operation.

“All seven were dead as the pressure of gas was high in the tank, but we could bring their bodies out,” fire officer Nikunj Azad told local press.

Safai Karmachari Andolan – a group campaigning to end manual sanitation work – estimates that nearly 1,800 sewer cleaners have died from suffocation during the last 10 years.

Ek Resimler:

Hong Kong: ‘It’s too little, too late’

Proposals for a controversial extradition law have been suspended, say Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam.

Some critics are unhappy with the decision, calling for a complete removal, not suspension of the law.

The decision follows mass protests in the city, and a previous refusal to halt the proposed law which would have allowed extradition to mainland China.

Ek Resimler: