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Million people hit the streets in Hong Kong in protest against extradition law. But why?

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Protesters attend a rally against a controversial extradition law proposal in Hong Kong. AFP

Hong Kong island was brought to a complete halt when demonstrators took to the streets chanting “Scrap the evil law,” “Oppose China extradition” and “Carrie Lam resign” in reference to the Chief Executive.

As protesters gathered in Victoria Park and Causeway Bay, police urged them to begin marching before the 3pm start-time, to avoid overcrowding the city.

Crowd control measures have been put in place, with protesters still leaving Victoria Park up to four hours after the start time, while some were arriving at the end-point, seven hours after the protests began.

After initially refusing to do so, police eventually opened all lanes on Hennessey Road. The organizer claims this to be the largest protest Hong Kong has ever seen, surpassing the turnout seen at mass rallies in 1989 and 2003.

Why are citizens protesting now, when this law was, allegedly, passed back in February, and the Hong Kong government agreed to the terms proposed by the Chinese government?

Hong Kong’s government first proposed legal amendments in February to allow the city to handle case-by-case extradition requests from jurisdictions with no prior agreements, most notably China and Taiwan.

The plan would enable the chief executive and local courts to handle extradition requests without legislative oversight and could reach a final vote before the current legislative period ends in July. The government has said the law will allow it to close a legal “loophole.” But lawyers, journalists, foreign politicians and businesses have raised concerns over the risk of residents being extradited to the mainland.

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