Asia

Hong Kong’s leader backs police use of force as protesters plan ‘illegal’ march

HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam took to the airwaves on Saturday (Oct 19) to back the use of force by police ahead of a major anti-government march planned this weekend in the Chinese-ruled city, which has been battered by months of violent protests.

Following a week of relative calm, Sunday's march will test the strength of the pro-democracy movement. Campaigners vowed it would go ahead despite police ruling the rally illegal.

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In the past, thousands of people have defied police and staged mass rallies without permission, often peaceful at the start but becoming violent at night.

The trigger for unrest in Hong Kong had been a now-withdrawn proposal to allow extradition to mainland China, as well as Taiwan and Macau. The case of a Hong Kong man accused of murdering his girlfriend in Taiwan before fleeing back to the city was held up as an example of why it was needed.

READ: Hong Kong protesters vow to hit the streets in major 'illegal' march

Late on Friday the man, Chan Tong-kai, who is jailed in Hong Kong for money laundering, wrote to Lam saying he would "surrender himself to Taiwan" over his alleged involvement in the case upon his release, which could be as soon as next week.

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Lam said in an interview on Saturday with broadcaster RTHK that it was a relief as it could bring an end to the case.

She also said that police had used appropriate force in handling the protests, and were responding to protesters' violence, amid criticism of heavy-handed tactics.

More than 2,600 people have been arrested since the protests escalated in June.

Protesters' demands have, since then, swelled far beyond opposing the extradition bill, to take in broader concerns that Beijing is eroding freedoms granted when Britain handed the city back to China in 1997.

MORE: Our coverage of the Hong Kong protests

China denies the accusation and has blamed foreign nations such as the United States and Britain for inciting the unrest.

The crisis in the Chinese-ruled city is the worst since the handover and poses the biggest popular challenge to China's President Xi Jinping since he took power.

Police have refused permission for Sunday's march citing risks of violence and vandalism, which has increased in recent weeks as protesters dressed in black ninja-like outfits have torched metro stations and Chinese banks and shops.

Rights group Human Rights Watch said the police move appeared to be aimed at dissuRead More – Source

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