By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 19 August 2019
In a show of support for the protesters in Hong Kong and their opposition to the infamous extradition bill, exile Tibetans marched, prayed, and shouted slogans in the capital of the Tibetan diaspora, McLeod Ganj, India.
They carried banners and placards reading ‘Tibet supports Hong Kong’ and ‘Hong Kong is not China’.
Some of the Tibetans were former political prisoners, who had been imprisoned by the Chinese authorities for their calls for freedom in Tibet. They are members of the Gu Chu Sum, an organisation of ex-political prisoners, which organised the march.
President of the organisation Namgyal Dolkar said, “We stand with nations and world leaders around the world that called on China for a peaceful solution to the protests and to respect the rights of the people of Hong Kong.
“We urge leaders and nations who are silent on the issue to condemn the atrocities inflicted upon the non-violent protesters in Hong Kong.”
According to reports, an estimated 1.7 million people — a quarter of the population — staged a peaceful march on Sunday despite heavy rain that lashed the city, defying police orders.
Hong Kongers, as the citizens call themselves, are demanding more democratic liberties and political reforms, but are particularly protesting against a bill which proposes extradition of people from the special administrative region of Hong Kong to mainland China.
If enacted, the law would allow the local authorities to detain and extradite people to China with which Hong Kong has no existing extradition agreements.
Critics say the law would be open to abuse by the Chinese government, enabling them to persecute their political opponents in Hong Kong.
The extradition bill has been shelved for now, but since March the protests have mushroomed against the government, the protesters believing that there will be growing control of Hong Kong by China’s Communist party.
A former British colony in southeastern China, Hong Kong has long enjoyed a special status under the principle of “one country, two systems”. It has its own legal system, distinct from the Law of the People’s Republic of China, and it would retain this system for 50 years after the handover in 1997.
Hong Kongers feel that China is extending its influence over Hong Kong long before this deadline.
Beijing has reacted furiously to the protests, warning those involved not to “play with fire”. It has even likened the protests to acts of terrorism.