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Hong Kong Democracy Activist Reacts To News That Extradition Bill Will Be Withdrawn

NOEL KING, HOST:

Hong Kong's chief executive, Carrie Lam, is withdrawing a bill that would have allowed people in Hong Kong to be extradited to China. Protests against that bill have been going on in Hong Kong for more than three months, and at points, they've turned violent. With me now on the line is Bonnie Leung. She's a pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong. Bonnie, hi.

BONNIE LEUNG: Hello, Noel.

KING: So this is what protesters have been asking for, or protesting against, in the case of this bill. What do you think? What's your reaction?

LEUNG: Well, my first reaction is that, of course, the extradition bill's withdrawal is totally overdue. Second of all, there are five demands that the Hong Kong protesters are asking for. The slogans that 2 million people, then 1.7 million people, took to the streets is five demands, no less. That is what we're fighting for, and that is our endorsement. So without all five demands being heard and responded, no one has the endorsement to accept anything less.

And that is - makes sense also because what Hong Kong people concern a lot about is already beyond the extradition bill. We see police brutality every single day. We have victims every single day. Just last night, in Hong Kong time, one 20-year-old young man was beaten almost to death by five or six police officers. He was unconscious. And the police officers at that time still believed that arresting him is more important than saving his life. So we see all these victims every single day, and we see no justice being brought to the victims. And we have to have all this police brutality - all of the police officers breaking laws to face trial.

KING: Bonnie, can you tell me - yeah. Can you tell me briefly what are the other demands? What are you asking for?

LEUNG: Sure. Of course, except from withdrawal of the bill, and also set up independent inquiry investigating police brutality and also Carrie Lam to step down, and then we'll have universal suffrage to elect our chief executive and also the whole of the - our legislature. And then the police had condemned protesters as rioters, and they are facing as much as 10 years of imprisonment. We're asking the government to withdraw the characterization of them being rioters. And also we want - there are about 1,000 people, protesters, already been arrested by the police, and we need amnesty for all of these people, protesters, being arrested and possibly being...

KING: So a long list of things that you want other than the withdrawal of this bill. Do you think there should be formal negotiations between protesters and the government? Would that help, given the number of demands that you have?

LEUNG: Well, I believe sooner or later, some kind of negotiations or discussions have to take place, thus facing the reality. We are actually waiting for an olive branch by Carrie Lam's government. But today's withdrawal of the bill is the first thing - look like a olive branch is taking place. But they're still shutting the door in front of us. They still ban the peaceful demonstrations we try to organize. So they are not opening the door, welcoming us into her office to have these sort of negotiations with her. So we're waiting for that moment to come, where she really is sincere to discuss, as she claimed.

KING: Bonnie, in the seconds we have left, should we expect more protests in Hong Kong?

LEUNG: I believe so, yes, because, as I said, four demands - very important demands are still unheard. So Hong Kong people will carry on. We will soldier on until we see justice being done. And freedom and rule of law - et cetera, et cetera - will be preserved for Hong Kong because this is our home. This is important.

KING: Bonnie Leung is a pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong. Bonnie, thanks so much.

LEUNG: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.