As the extradition bill-related crisis drags on, throwing up the prospect of further disturbance in social order and peace in the city, a group of young anti-government protesters held a press conference of their own on Tuesday to explain their position and defend their movement.
During the event, three activists appeared before the media without revealing their personal identities, wearing black and donning face masks and helmets, the dress code observed by many young people during the street demonstrations in Hong Kong in recent weeks.
At the so-called “Civil Press Conference”, the first of its kind in which protesters openly spoke their mind, the activists said it is the government, and not the youth, that is to blame for the ongoing social unrest in the city.
Calling on the police and the government to stop acting like they are the enemy of the people, the anti-extradition bill movement supporters urged authorities to accept the public’s demands, which include complete withdrawal of the now-suspended controversial bill and an independent inquiry into police conduct.
Describing themselves as not representing anyone but just conveying the feelings of many protesters, one spokesman, who identified himself as Kim, said they can’t tell anyone to escalate their protest actions, and that their only aim is to let the public know what’s on protesters’ minds and present the truth.
Kim condemned what he termed as violent and brutal acts of the police during the recent demonstrations in the city.
Accusing the police of using excessive force during crowd dispersal operations, he called for an end to what he described as abuse of power.
The government must respond to people’s demands, otherwise the protests will only persist, the activist warned.
Kim hit back at Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po’s comments the other day wherein the official warned that the protests were having a negative impact on Hong Kong’s economy.
There is no direct link between the slowdown in economic growth in the second quarter and the protests, Kim said, pointing out that the escalation of the protests did not occur until June 9.
The activist also suggested that the government should not waste public resources by holding a press conference every day to denounce the protesters.
Authorities should instead focus on responding to citizens’ concerns and demands directly, and prepare for global economic challenges, he said.
The “Civil Press Conference” was organized by about 100 members of a group that regularly participates in an online discussion forum. More than 10 members attended the press conference on Tuesday, though only three masked representatives spoke.
Asked what protesters will do if the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Garrison in Hong Kong dispatches soldiers to quell the demonstrations, another spokesman said Hongkongers are intelligent and that they will return home for sleep if such thing happens.
The presser by the activists came a day after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor told media that that the protests gripping the city are a challenge to China’s sovereignty, and that the civic disturbances are pushing Hong Kong to the verge of an “extremely dangerous situation”.
Lam announced that the police will hold media briefings every day, and that the government will also hold inter-departmental news conferences, if necessary, to tell the public what is going on.
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