With a hunger strike and sit-in at the headquarters of the Legislative Council on Tuesday, the civil society in Hong Kong is mobilizing opposition against a controversial extradition bill that would allow individuals to be sent to mainland China to stand trial.
Opponents of the proposed legislation that risks rights of Hong Kong citizens have called for a general strike on Wednesday, when the bill will be up for a second reading.
The legislative process appears to have gone a step further as Legislative Council President Andrew Leung announced on Tuesday that legislators will not vote on the draft until Thursday next week.
The mobilizations were to begin with writers of the Pen Hong Kong group starting a 24-hour hunger strike from 8 pm local time onwards on Tuesday.
Pro-democracy groups have called out to thousands of citizens for a sit-in at 10 pm around the Legislative Council, and urged them to remain there until Wednesday.
The general strike, which has come to be popularly known as "612 strike" in reference to the date (June 12), has been called by the bus and airline unions, teachers, the Catholic Church and the Confederation of Trade Unions.
Hundreds of establishments, restaurants, eateries, bookshops and cafes have announced their intent to join the strike, as well as union of teachers and schools, small hotels, law firms, social workers and more than 40 religious and social groups.
Firms such as Cathay Pacific, Craft Coffee Roaster and Call 4 Van have announced a closure so that their workers may join the protest.
Bus drivers union posted a statement on social media urging all its members to drive at "safe" speeds, significantly lower than the permissible limit and not allow other vehicles to move ahead.
Before the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam warned against such "radical" action, asking people to reflect if it would be profitable for the society.
“I urge schools, parents, organizations, enterprises, unions to consider carefully – what good does it do for Hong Kong society, and our young people, by calling for such radical action,” asked Lam.
Labour Party legislator Fernando Cheung also spoke along the same lines, claiming the strike was not constructive for the society, while admitting that it could send a strong and clear message to the government.
The proposal has got alarm bells ringing among human rights groups on the island, as well as citizens and workers from a large number of sectors over fears that China may use the extradition laws to crack down on dissidence and freedom of expression in Hong Kong.
However, the mainland government at Beijing claimed there was no cause for alarm.
"China attaches high importance to the protection and promotion of human rights," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters on Tuesday.
"Our judicial system fully guarantees all the lawful rights of the suspects. We have extradited over 260 criminal suspects from many countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. It fully shows the confidence of the international community in China's judicial system," he said.