Recent protests in Hong Kong have students at BYU-Idaho watching closely.
An extradition bill has prompted thousands, and possibly millions, of protesters to go into the streets against it.
First, some history to help understand what’s going on in Hong Kong. Hong Kong was a colony of Britain until 1997 when they were handed back to China and allowed to live under their own legal system.
“China has been trying to take away our human rights [and] freedom little by little,” Josh Churk, a native of Hong Kong and a student at BYU-Idaho said. “That’s why Hong Kong people are standing up against it throughout the years.”
Recently, the Chinese government has been trying to create a new law that would allow people in Hong Kong be tried in mainland China for crimes. Hong Kongers and others throughout the world believe this will take away their freedom.
“China will take those that they suspect of anything...it’s not for criminals, it’s for any common person, and it will take away everyone’s freedom,” Emerald Clark, who grew up in Hong Kong and is now a student at BYU-Idaho, said.
Churk explained that even if Americans said or did something in China that was not in harmony with their laws, they would have to be tried in China also.
A reason this is a bad thing is because China has a 99.9% conviction rate, Clark said. Anyone could go to jail for an unknown period of time.
Hong Kongers are trying to suggest ways to improve the bill, such as making the individual first go through the Hong Kong legal system to make sure the criminal is guilty before sending them to China to be tried. However, China is not taking those suggestions into consideration.
On June 9, an estimated one million people in Hong Kong rallied together to protest against the bill. Because their leader, Carrie Lam did not agree with the people, more protests followed.
Because of the protests from Hong Kongers, Lam chose to put the bill on hold, but did not withdraw it.
“A lot of people in Hong Kong are concerned that once things have kind of quieted down, they’re going to just rush it through despite the protests and all of the negative feelings towards that bill,” Jessica Lam, who married a man from Hong Kong and who is an alumna of BYU-Idaho, said.
This extradition bill not only affects people directly in Hong Kong, but their family members who live in other parts of the world.
Churk said he’s learned how to apply the gospel of Jesus Christ in this situation. He tries to understand people who have different viewpoints and opinions than he does.
Lam said it’s affected her husband’s family in the aspect that it’s hard for them to get to work because of the protesting. She feels like she understands human rights better because of it.
Clark said it brings a different perspective being an American and having been raised in Hong Kong. She better appreciates the freedoms she has in America.