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Hong Kong marchers gather as protester’s death mourned

A man fell to his death on Saturday after hanging a protest banner.

A major protest took place last week (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A major protest took place last week (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Hong Kong residents are gathering for another protest over an unpopular extradition bill that has highlighted the territory’s apprehension about relations with mainland China.

Meanwhile, a steady stream of mourners were stopping by a makeshift memorial to lay flowers and pray for a man who fell to his death on Saturday after hanging a protest banner.

The man slipped from the grasp of rescuers after clinging for a time to scaffolding outside a shopping centre. He missed a big cushion set up to capture him, and was declared dead at a nearby hospital.

The banner read “Make Love, No Shoot” and “No Extradition to China”.

Pro-democracy activists are calling for a general strike on Monday despite Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam’s decision to suspend work on the legislation. Some labour unions, teachers associations and other groups are planning boycotts of work and classes.

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Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

“We encourage all the public to carry on the campaign,” said Bonny Leung and other leaders of the pro-democracy Civil Human Rights Front.

Many opponents of the extradition legislation are urging Ms Lam to step down and want her to drop the legislation, which many fear would undermine freedoms enjoyed by the former British colony but not elsewhere in China.

The communist government in Beijing issued multiple statements backing Ms Lam’s decision, which she announced in a news conference on Saturday.

The battle over legislation has evolved into Hong Kong’s toughest political test since the Communist Party-ruled mainland took control in 1997 with a promise not to interfere with the city’s civil liberties and courts.

Marchers wearing black gathered at the city’s Victoria Park ahead of the mid-afternoon protest. A week earlier up to a million rallied in protest, and demonstrations on Wednesday turned violent, with dozens injured as police fought back with tear gas, rubber bullets and other forceful measures.

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A worker cleans up in the aftermath of protests (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Ms Lam has said the extradition legislation is needed for Hong Kong to uphold justice, meet its international obligations and not become a magnet for fugitives. The proposed bill would expand the scope of criminal suspect transfers to include Taiwan, Macau and mainland China.

China has been excluded from Hong Kong’s extradition agreements because of concerns over its judicial independence and human rights record.

Speaking to reporters after announcing her decision, Ms Lam sidestepped questions over whether she should quit. She insisted she was not withdrawing the proposed amendment and defended the police.

But she said she was suspending the bill indefinitely. It was time, she said, “for responsible government to restore as quickly as possible this calmness in society”.

“I want to stress that the government is adopting an open mind,” she said. “We have no intention to set a deadline for this work.”

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