At least 72 people were injured in protests over a proposed extradition bill in Hong Kong on Wednesday.
The Hong Kong Hospital Authority said 50 males and 22 females were injured — with two people in serious condition as the protests escalated and police used tear gas, batons and fired beanbag rounds and rubber balls at protesters. Some protesters threw rocks and metal barricades.
Following the introduction of an extradition bill that would allow suspects in Hong Kong to be sent for trial in mainland China, protests erupted. Thousands have demonstrated against the bill, alleging it would strip away people’s rights.
In a statement issued at the end of March from the Human Rights Watch, the agency urged the proposed extradition changes be scrapped.
The HRW said the changes would pose “risk of torture or other ill-treatment, and unfair trials,” to the people.
“These amendments would heighten the risk for human rights activists and others critical of China being extradited to the mainland for trial on fabricated charges,” Sophie Richardson, China director of HRW, said in a statement. “This is a devastating blow to the freedoms promised Hong Kong upon its handover to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.”
Despite protests, the government has said they are moving forward with legislation hearings for the bills. The Hong Kong Legislative Council delayed the second hearings for the bill Wednesday because of the protests, with no indication when they would begin.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang says “any act that undermines Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability is opposed by mainstream public opinion in Hong Kong.”
The amended laws are set to be voted on June 20.