Date
24 July 2019
Protesters swarm Revenue Tower (L) and the Immigration Tower on Monday, demanding that the government meet all the demands in relation to the extradition bill. Photos: Bloomberg, HKEJ
Protesters swarm Revenue Tower (L) and the Immigration Tower on Monday, demanding that the government meet all the demands in relation to the extradition bill. Photos: Bloomberg, HKEJ

Protesters again target key govt buildings

The Inland Revenue Department and the Immigration Department headquarters buildings on Gloucester Road in Wan Chai were once again targeted by anti-government protesters on Monday, causing some disruption in services. 

After nearly 500 people swarmed the Revenue Tower, the Immigration Tower and the Queensway Government Offices last Friday, around 200 extradition bill opponents flooded the revenue and immigration department buildings again this week, aiming to pressure the government into accepting demands that include full withdrawal of the bill and dropping of charges against arrested demonstrators.

On Monday morning some 100 people gathered in the demonstration zone outside the Legislative Council building for a protest before changing their venue to the Revenue Tower in Wan Chai.

After noon, the protesters, many of whom wore black clothes and face masks, went to Revenue Tower and blockaded the main entrance of the building, as well as entrance and exit of the parking lot.

The protesters only allowed people to leave but prevented people from entering, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Holding placards and chanting slogans, they wanted their demands met, including scrapping of the extradition bill, release of those arrested for June 12 clashes in Admiralty, and holding police to account for their use of excessive force during the clashes.

Meanwhile, some activists apologized repeatedly for the inconvenience they may be causing to the public.

Some protesters tried to keep the elevators open, and sporadic clashes between protesters and the department‘s staff erupted. Meanwhile, quite a number of staff returning from lunch were forced to stay in Gloucester Road Garden as they were unable to return to the tower.

Then at around 2:30 pm, some protesters said their protest site would be changed again at 3 pm. Later, the crowd moved to the neighboring Immigration Tower and began demonstrating there.

Some protesters went up the stairs chanting slogans, while others joined lines before some application windows in the department, RTHK reported.

Protesters began gradually leaving at around 4 pm. During the whole incident, there was some disruption to public services in the government compound for a total of four hours.

Criticizing the protesters, New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said she cannot understand why people were disrupting key public services.

Lau, who is a member of the Executive Council, believes that even if the government changes the wording of the extradition bill from “suspension” to “withdrawal”, it would still not pacify the protesters.

The Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants’ Association said in a statement that those who blocked access to government buildings and prevented civil servants from providing services to the public were violating the rule of law and lacking in rationality and civic sense.

The statement said civil servants, including police officers, only follow their superiors’ instructions when performing their duties, and they should never have to shoulder any political responsibility.

The association called on all civil servants to maintain political neutrality as their work becomes “more difficult and challenging” in the face of the administration’s “unprecedented governance crisis”, RTHK reported.

A government spokesperson, meanwhile, also reminded the protesters that they should not hinder those in need of government services.

The government respects the public’s right to procession and assembly, but the demonstrators should act peacefully and rationally when expressing their views, the spokesperson said.

On Tuesday, more than 10 young anti-extradition campaigners returned to the Revenue Tower and distributed handbills, saying they apologize for the inconvenience caused by their protest actions in the area.

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TL/JC/RC

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