Thousands of Hong Kong expats and supporters have marched in Sydney today protesting the proposed China Extradition Bill.
Protesters fear that the legislation in Hong Kong will greenlight mainland China’s practice of “disappearing” dissidents.
The rally in Sydney coincides with marches opposing the China Extradition Bill in major cities around the world including New York, Berlin and Vancouver.
Despite organisers having their Facebook event pages removed before the rally in Sydney, turnout was larger than expected with Police forced to temporarily close roads in the city centre.
Speaking in both Cantonese and English, protest leader Jared called on the Australian government to join the growing international condemnation of the China Extradition Bill.
Marching from the steps of the State Library of New South Wales, protesters shared their support for Hong Kong with shouts of 香港加油 (Hong Kong “add oil”, keep going).
Signs bearing messages 反送中 (No China Extradition) and yellow umbrellas – the symbol of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement were hoisted as protesters marched towards the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office near Sydney Town Hall’s Hong Kong House.
Australian Federal Police joined their New South Wales counterparts in monitoring the vocal yet peaceful crowd as protest leaders sticky taped a petition to the doors of the Hong Kong House.
Urging the Hong Kong government to stop the China Extradition Bill, protesters fear that the new legislation will further erode the city’s freedoms and infringe on human rights.
Protest leaders addressed the large crowd in the heart of Sydney City at Martin Place, making it known that this was a genuine grassroots protest and denied the event was a foreign conspiracy against China.
A similar petition was also sticky taped to the doors of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade offices urging the Australian government to speak up for freedom in Hong Kong.
Protesters mostly wore black symbolising the increasing crackdown on freedom of speech and press freedoms in Hong Kong.
Several protesters also carried messages in remembrance of the thirtieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre on 4 June and joined in calls for the upholding of an independent Hong Kong judiciary system.
In their closing speeches, protest leaders thanked the Australian government and Police for allowing the rally to take place in Sydney, with authorities putting the turnout at 2,000.
There are currently around 100,000 Australians living in Hong Kong, with many including working across the border into mainland China as well.
Anyone in Hong Kong, including both citizens and potentially travellers as well, can be deemed to have committed a crime subject to the new extradition legislation.
Roydon Ng is a freelance journalist, blogger and web designer based from Sydney, Australia.