A collection of various protest scenes in Hong Kong A collection of various protest scenes in Hong Kong - ImagesGram

A collection of various protest scenes in Hong Kong

The 2019 Hong Kong protests, also known as the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill (or Anti-ELAB) movement, are an ongoing series of demonstrations in Hong Kong which were triggered by the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill by the Hong Kong government. If enacted, the bill would have let local authorities detain and extradite criminal fugitives who are wanted in territories with which Hong Kong does not currently have extradition agreements, including Taiwan and mainland China. This created concerns that the bill would subject Hong Kong residents and visitors to the mainland Chinese jurisdiction and legal system, undermining the region's autonomy and its civil liberties. 

As the protests progressed, the protesters laid out five key demands, which include investigation into alleged police misconduct and resumption of democratic reforms that were promised in the Sino-British Joint Declaration, but stagnated after the 2014 Umbrella Revolution. The Chinese central government has indicated that it sees the protests as the "worst crisis in Hong Kong" since the handover in 1997. Rallies began in March and April and evolved into mass movements in June. The protest rally held on 9 June saw up to a million people marching for the withdrawal of the bill. A day later, Chief Executive Carrie Lam vowed to push ahead with the extradition bill despite mass protests. On 12 June, the day on which the bill was scheduled for a second reading in the Legislative Council, the protests showed a sharp escalation in violence. 

Riot police deployed tear gas and rubber bullets, but protesters successfully stalled the functioning of the legislature. An even bigger march took place on 16 June, just one day after the suspension of the bill, as protesters shifted the focus onto what they alleged to be the excessive use of force by the police on 12 June. A scholar on-field gave an independent estimate of 500,000 to 800,000 protesters, while the organisers claimed that two million people participated. In contrast, the police reported that 338,000 people marched at its peak. 1 July marked the storming of the Legislative Council Complex and the vandalising of central government symbols at the building. 

Subsequently, protests have continued throughout the summer, escalating into increasingly violent confrontations involving the police, activists on both sides, suspected triad gangs, and local residents in all districts throughout the region. An incident occurred on 21 July, where triads assaulted protesters and bystanders throughout the night, while police were accused of collusion with the triads due to their slow response in attending to police calls. Subsequent police operations and alleged misconduct prompted a general strike and city-wide protests on 5 August. About 1.7 million people (organisers' estimate) attended a rally condemning alleged police brutality on 18 August. Inspired by the Baltic Way, a human chain 50 kilometres long created the Hong Kong Way. 

There were also pro-police rallies that attracted hundreds of thousands of participants. Lam suspended the extradition bill on 15 June and declared the bill "dead" on 9 July, but resisted withdrawing it until 4 September. Large-scale demonstrations occurred on 1 October, being the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, when an 18-year-old student protester was shot while attempting to hit a policeman. Intending to curb protests, the Chief Executive in Council invoked the Emergency Regulations Ordinance on 4 October to implement an anti-mask law.

The bill was finally withdrawn on 23 October, but the government refused to concede to the other four demands, namely an independent inquiry into police brutality, the release of arrested protesters, a complete retraction of the official characterisation of the protests as "riots", and Lam's resignation along with the introduction of universal suffrage for election of the Legislative Council and the Chief Executive.