HONG KONG – More than 1,000 lawyers marched through Hong Kong’s business district urging authorities to stop political persecution and to form an independent inquiry commission into recent events triggered by a controversial extradition bill.
Legal professionals, dressed in formal black clothing, braved the scorching noon sun on Wednesday and marched in silence from the Court of Final Appeal to the Department of Justice office in the center of the city.
It was the second “black clothes” march staged by the legal sector in two months over the extradition bill, which would have allowed suspects to be sent from Hong Kong to mainland China and prosecuted under the latter’s opaque legal system.
Marchers demanded the Department of Justice preserve its independence and end “political prosecutions.”
They also called on the government to set up an independent body to investigate events surrounding the demonstrations, including alleged police brutality against campaigners.
The controversial proposed law, and a wave of protests it triggered, have plunged the Asian financial hub into its biggest political crisis since its sovereignty was returned to China in 1997.
As tensions continued to deepen, concerns have grown from different quarters, including the legal sector, over what is deemed selective law enforcement by the police and political prosecution by the judicial authorities.
Over the past two months, more than 500 people, including numerous young demonstrators, have been arrested and some charged with rioting.
However, no prosecution has yet to be launched against any of the assailants involved in a mob attack on July 21, in which dozens of gangsters indiscriminately attacked people with iron rods and rattan sticks in a subway station in suburban Yuen Long, leaving at least 45 injured.
The alleged unfairness in treatment by the authorities was a major reason motivating legal professionals to take to the streets on Wednesday.
Speaking to the crowd at the end of the march, solicitor Kevin Yam Kin-fung, founder of the Progressive Lawyers Group, said: “All we want is justice. All we want is consistency.
“We don’t want to see a bunch of thugs getting away with [their crimes] while the best of our youths are being prosecuted and their future being taken away.”
On Tuesday evening, a university student was arrested in the street after he bought 10 laser pointers from a shop in Sham Shui Po.
The incident sent hundreds of residents sieging a police station nearby, accusing the police of abusing their power.
They were later dispersed when tear gas was fired.
In the recent series of protests, laser pointers are often used by protesters to shine light at riot police.