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Founder Of Demosisto, Pro-Independence Party, Reacts To Protests In Hong Kong


To talk more about what this extradition bill might mean for the future of Hong Kong citizens, we turn to Nathan Law. He was a student leader in the Umbrella Movement who has been jailed for his activism. And he's founder of the Demosisto political party in Hong Kong. Welcome to the program.


CORNISH: What are the implications of this extradition law? Why do you think this has sparked such outcry?

LAW: Well, because the extradition law may impose threats to a lot of people, like political dissidents and reporters, NGO workers and so on. The incidence of cross-border kidnapping happened before, can be legalized and normalized. And people like me, political dissidents, will be very worried about our own personal safety.

CORNISH: You're calling it kidnapping, but these are instances when the government, I guess, takes possession of people they consider criminal suspects.

LAW: Well, we have no judicial independence in mainland China. We have no fair trial. So it is notorious that the government would use fabricated cases dealing with political dissidents and so on. So we could easily become criminals if the Chinese Communist Party wanted to set us up.

CORNISH: This is a smaller, younger group compared to this weekend's protests, but there's also, as we heard in the piece, more conflict - right? - protesters physically blocking access to the Legislative Council Building. Are you worried that these tactics could damage the support that you've had with a broad section of the public in Hong Kong?

LAW: Well, I think although there was some provocative actions towards the police, overall it was a very peaceful demonstration. So I don't see whether the support from the mass public will deteriorate. But I think what makes it bad for the government is the police brutality was way too much. They used rubber bullets. They claimed that it was a riot. But no cars were burned, and no shopping windows were crashed. And it was a bloody scene just couple hours ago. So we are very angry about how the police are dealing with the protesters.

CORNISH: The chief executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, is elected by a small committee that's stacked basically with Beijing sympathizers. So do you really think the protests can influence her decision?

LAW: The chief executive of Hong Kong - basically handpicked by Beijing. So she is responsible and only listen to Beijing instead of Hong Kong people. So we are not very optimistic about she retreating the proposal. But for us, for Hong Kong people, the mentality that we do what we consider right is very important. We don't calculate much about the consequence. We only do things that we think is necessary, and we have to do it. So I think for now, a lot of Hong Kong people are not giving up. We still hang on, and we still hope that we could create enough pressure to the government and get them to shelve the bill.

CORNISH: The - after the Umbrella Movement and now these protests, do you think it's becoming more and more difficult for people in Hong Kong to engage in activism? Is Beijing winning?

LAW: Well, of course. The government is hunting down activists with its justice department and its police brutality. So for now, it is a difficult time for activism. But it is also a beautiful time for Hong Kong people to show their bravery, to show their love towards the city and show how large their commitment is when they are very determined to safeguard the city. So I think when the government is getting more reluctant and getting more harsher towards the activism, we are getting stronger.

CORNISH: The Government postponed the debate over the extradition bill. It appears they still want to go forward. What will you consider success?

LAW: Well, that will only be Carrie Lam retreating the proposal. So we are trying to head to that direction, and I think a lot of Hong Kong people are working on it.

CORNISH: That's activist Nathan Law in Hong Kong. Thank you for speaking with us.

LAW: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.