Hong Kong leader calls extradition law protests an 'organised riot'

Hong Kong leader calls extradition law protests an 'organised riot'

Chief Executive Carrie Lam denied ignoring the huge public backlash over the extradition bill
Chief Executive Carrie Lam denied ignoring the huge public backlash over the extradition bill AFP/Anthony WALLACE

HONG KONG: Hong Kong's leader hit out at protesters who battled police Wednesday (Jun 12) calling the clashes "organised riots" in her first comments since violence broke out over her government's unpopular plan to allow extraditions to China.

"The rioting actions that damage peaceful society, ignoring law and discipline is unacceptable for any civilised societies," chief executive Carrie Lam said in a video statement, her first comments since the clashes erupted.

Protesters demonstrate against a proposed extradition bill in Hong Kong
Protesters march along a road demonstrating against a proposed extradition Bill in Hong Kong on Jun 12, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha)

"Its obvious that these are not peaceful rallies, but openly organised riots," she added. She noted the protests were "in no way an act of loving Hong Kong".

In a brief evening televised address, Lam "strongly condemned" the violence and urged the city to return to normal as soon as possible.

Outlining the events of Wednesday morning Lam said some people who held "total disregard to public safety occupied and blocked carriageways, paralysed traffic and gravely disrupted order in society".

In the afternoon, she said some people "repeatedly charged" towards the police cordon line and engaged in activities like setting fire, attacking the police with sharpened iron poles and bricks, and damaging nearby public facilities.

READ: Hong Kong shops, workers in rare strike to 'defend freedom'

READ: Explainer: Why proposed changes to Hong Kong's extradition law are fueling protests

"INTENSE CONFRONTATION IS SURELY NOT THE SOLUTION": LAM

In her statement, she acknowledged that the bill drew "strong positive and negative opinions in society".

"Intense confrontation is surely not the solution to ease disputes and resolve controversies,"she said.

"I hope you can all calm down to consider that this is not the first time in recent years that we have seen such riotous scenes.

"Hong Kong is a free, open and pluralistic society that values different opinions on everything.

"If a goal can be reached by radical and violent means, such scenes will become more severe, which will definitely put Hong Kong in harm's way."

On resolving issues, Lam said she believed it can be achieved in a "peaceful, rational and law-abiding manner for the overall interests of Hong Kong".

"I hope that society will return to order as soon as possible and I don't want any more people to get injured in the riot. I appeal to all citizens who love this place to stay away from violence," the chief executive said.

Hong Kong protests tear gas
Protesters react after police fired tear gas during a rally against a controversial extradition law proposal outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 12, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Anthony WALLACE)

In a separate interview recorded earlier on Wednesday before the worst of the violence, she repeatedly stood by the introduction of the bill, and said the time was right for it to be debated.

"I have never had any guilty conscience because of this matter, I just said the initial intention of our work is still firmly right."

She added that "perhaps it is impossible to completely eliminate worry, anxiety or controversy".

Source: Agencies/aa

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