BEIJING – Hong Kong’s leader early Tuesday condemned protesters who stormed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council, describing the incident as an extreme use of violence.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the Monday incident, in which protesters rammed the glass facade of the Legislative Council (LegCo) building before entering the main parliamentary chamber and vandalizing property, “saddens” and “shocks” people.
She compared it to a peaceful public march also held on the day which marked the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China by the United Kingdom.
Lam said the incident, “which really saddens and shocks a lot of people, is the extreme use of violence and vandalism by protesters who stormed into the Legislative Council building.”
“This is something that we should seriously condemn, because nothing is more important than the rule of law in Hong Kong,” she added at the 4:00 am press conference.
“I hope the community at large will agree with us that with these violent acts we have seen it is right for us to condemn it and hope society will return to normal as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of China’s State Council in a statement expressed support for the Hong Kong government and the local police to handle the incident in accordance with the law and investigate criminal responsibility of offenders.
The office added that the incident infringes on Hong Kong’s rule of law, undermines its social order as well as its fundamental interests, and called it a blatant challenge to the “one country, two systems” policy under which the city enjoys autonomy in some spheres.
According to the organizers of Monday’s protests, around 550,000 people took part.
It was the latest of several demonstrations held in recent weeks demanding the withdrawal of the divisive extradition bill that as law would allow Hong Kong to hand over suspects to other jurisdictions, including mainland China.
The protesters also demand the resignation of Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader Carrie Lam, and the release of all those detained in clashes with the police in protests.
Although Monday’s demonstration was not supposed to go near the area where the parliament is situated, eventually a splinter group of protesters headed towards LegCo and started battering the glass and metal security gates.
After four hours, the protesters – many wearing black clothes, gas masks and hard hats and at points protected by people shielding their identities with umbrellas – managed to storm the building, including the main parliamentary chamber, where they defaced property then fled before riot police moved in.