Hong Kong, June 22 (IANS) The Hong Kong police on Saturday condemned a 15-hour-long siege of the city’s police headquarters by protesters ahead of what is gearing up to be another weekend of massive demonstrations in the city.
Following the end of the overnight siege on Saturday morning, police officers removed the barricades they had placed at the entrances of their headquarters to allow the exit of personnel who had been holed up inside incommunicado during the blockade, Efe news reported.
The police said in a statement that “they have shown the greatest tolerance to the protesters who assembled outside PHQ (police headquarters)” and slammed those rallying, saying their means of expressing views have become “illegal, irrational and unreasonable”.
“The acts of the protesters seriously affected the work of police, including the provision of emergency services to the public,” added the statement, which warned that law enforcement would “stringently follow up on these illegal activities”.
The protesters dispersed on Saturday morning and the surrounding roads re-opened to traffic amid uncertainty regarding the possibility of more massive protests over the weekend.
The city is bracing itself for the third consecutive weekend of demonstrations against a controversial extradition bill that has plunged the China-ruled city into a profound political crisis, posing the biggest challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
The protesters’ ire is directed at Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who first proposed and later shelved the contentious bill. Lam has yet to completely withdraw the proposed legislation, as the demonstrators are demanding.
The bill would expand the scope of criminal suspect transfers to include mainland China, Taiwan and Macau.
Many Hong Kong citizens believe this would erode the territory’s judicial independence from Beijing and see it as a sign of the Chinese government’s efforts to undermine the special freedoms enjoyed in the former British colony.
Protesters are calling for the bill be officially nixed, for the police to issue an apology for the disproportionate tactics employed during last weekend’s protests and for Lam to step down.