Hong Kong, China – Thousands of Hong Kong residents are gathering on Sunday afternoon despite the city government's decision to suspend a controversial amendment to a law which, critics say, would see an erosion of the city's much-preserved autonomy
The planned march comes just a day after Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam made a stunning reversal by shelving the extradition bill indefinitely, only days after vowing to push ahead with it
But the protesters want the controversial bill be
Former legislative councilor and activist Lee Cheuk Yan told reporters that the now-dormant law "can be revived by Carrie Lam at any time ", adding that it was important to continue opposing the government on the issue, especially after the violence and arrests of Wednesday.
" We want the government to condemn this police violence. We do not want Hong Kong to be ruled by fear. "
Protest organizer Bonnie Leung said that even though Beijing could never admit to backing down in front of the massive demonstrations, it could sense that Lam's government would cease to be
"Today, when a lot of Hong Kong people come out, Beijing can (again) read this message."
Crowds are gathering at the city's Victoria Park, the site of its annual Tiananmen Massacre vigil , and the jumping-off point for a similar protest a week ago, which organizers say they have attracted over a million people Police put that count at 240,000
Almost two hours before the march was scheduled to begin , hundreds of protestors, many wearing blacks, began to congregate on the park's concrete soccer pitches.
An events and marketing professional, identified with his first name Keith, told Al Jazeera that he was not satisfied with Lam's decision to postpone the bill, and that he 32-year-old said he did not expect the violence that marred Wednesday's protests to affect the numbers of marketers. "It may deter some people, but not many. This is very important. "
Like many marchers who had convened early, he carried a small bunch of white flowers, which he said was a tribute to a protestor who fell to his death outside a luxury mall in the business district of Admiralty on Saturday, shortly after Lam's announcement
If enactable, the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation ) Bill, critics argue, would release the vital freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kongers, undermining the independence of Hong Kong's legal system and putting Hong Kong's citizens and foreign citizens at risk
Hong Kong protests shaping history
It would allow the government to send anyone accused of a serious crime across the border to mainland China, where the justice system is widely perceived as opaque and politically motivated.
The contentious bill was scheduled for debate on Wednesday but it was canceled after the protestors surrounded the Legislative Council complex, with legislators unable to enter the chambers
Those demonstrations turned ugly , with police in riot gear taking protestors with tear gas, pepper spray, water cannon and batons. Several people were injured in the clashes, with some protestors allegedly arrested by the police in the hospital after the demonstrations were quashed
While the territory is part of China, after its return from British rule in 1997, it enjoys and a high degree of autonomy from Beijing, thanks to the 'one country, two systems' formula signed by the outgoing British administration and the new Chinese government
Article 4 of the Basic Law, the de facto constitution that forms the basis of Hong Kong's autonomy, promises to "safeguard the rights and freedoms of the residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and of other persons in the region in accordance with the law."
Part of this autonomy comes in the form of its independent judiciary, which, critics of the proposed changes argue, would be eroded if Beijing had the right to request those accused of crimes in the mainland were turned over
Beijing insists it was not instr