Joshua Wong, one of the leaders of Hong Kong’s 2014 Occupy pro-democracy protests, walked free from prison on Monday and vowed to join the campaign calling for resignation of the city’s current chief executive, Carrie Lam, amid an extradition bill controversy.
“I will join to fight against this evil law,” said Wong, referring to the extradition legislation that Lam had pushed before she was forced to suspend the efforts in the wake of huge public protests.
“I believe this is the time for her, Carrie Lam the liar, to step down” Reuters quoted Wong as saying.
Wong was released from prison on Monday after serving a jail term for his role in the 2014 street occupations that were aimed at pushing for electoral reforms in Hong Kong.
Speaking to reporters, the 22-year-old thanked all those who took part in Sunday’s massive rally.
Wong said he felt upset that he wasn’t able to protest alongside Hong Kong people over the past two weeks, but pledged to rejoin them as soon as possible, RTHK reports.
“I have no hope towards the government but I have hope towards the people. And we just realized that Hong Kong people, in the critical moment, they will try their best to join the fight”, he said.
The government must revoke the classification of the June 12 clashes as a riot, and Carrie Lam must step down and scrap the contentious bill completely, Wong said.
“No matter what happens, I will join the protest soon,” he said, according to RTHK.
Wong was freed from jail after completing a two-month sentence in relation to the 2014 protests.
His release comes as a political crisis in Hong Kong enters its second week, amid growing uncertainty over the fate of Lam and an extradition bill she postponed at the weekend, Reuters noted.
Protest organizers said almost 2 million people turned out on Sunday to demand that Lam resign.
The mass rally forced Lam to apologize over her plans to push through the extradition bill that would allow people to be sent to mainland China to face trial.
On Monday, protest organizers said they wanted Lam to withdraw the bill, release arrested students, drop the official description of Wednesday’s rally as a riot, and step down.
Opposition politicians echoed marchers’ calls for both Lam and the proposed law to go.
“Her government cannot be an effective government, and will have much, much, much difficulties to carry on,” veteran Democratic Party legislator James To told RTHK.
“I believe the central people’s government will accept her resignation.”
However, the official China Daily said Beijing’s leaders will continue to back Lam, as it lashed out at foreign “meddling” in the crisis.
China’s support for Lam will “not waver, not in the face of street violence nor the ill-intentioned interventions of foreign governments,” the newspaper said in an editorial, Reuters noted.
Although Lam has delayed the bill, she is yet to completely withdraw the plan.
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