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Remembering Marco Leung, the first to die in Hong Kong's anti-China extradition protests

Marco Leung. Image from the Stand News, Global Voices’ content partner.

Supporters of the anti-China extradition movement in Hong Kong count around a dozen unnatural deaths related to last year's protests.

The majority of the deceased committed suicide — at least six individuals left suicide notes expressing their support of the protests and frustration towards the government.

The most shocking incidents were the deaths of Marco Leung Ling-kit on June 15 and Chow Tsz-lok on November 3.

Marco Leung, 35, was the first to die during the protests.

He fell from Pacific Place, a shopping mall, while he was hanging up a protest banner at 4 PM on June 15, a week after a one million-strong demonstration failed to convince the city's leadership to withdraw the bill.

Leung was wearing a yellow raincoat displaying the words “(Chief Executive) Carrie Lam killed Hong Kong, Cops were cold blooded.” (林鄭殺港 黑警冷血).

On the banner he wrote:

全面撤回送中。我們不是暴動。釋放學生 傷者。林鄭下台。Help Hong Kong。
反送中 No EXTRADITION TO CHINA。MAKE LOVE No shoot!

Complete withdrawal of the China-extradition bill. We are not rioters. Release the students and the injured. Step down Carrie Lam. Help Hong Kong. No Extradition to China. Make Love, No shoot!

The Hong Kong government continued to refuse to withdraw the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019, better known as the China extradition bill.

In response, on June 12, thousands of protesters charged towards the Legislative Council (LegCo).

Riot police cracked down on the protest with tear gas and rubber bullet rounds. Authorities labeled the protests as riots, a definition that left the protesters facing sentences of up to ten years in jail.

Marco Leung's individual protest was a reaction to the government's refusal to listen to people's demands and its labelling of citizens as rioters.

He fell to his death after a rescue team launched an attempt to pull him inside the shopping mall. Leung's death shocked all of Hong Kong.

The following day, two million people took to the streets, calling for Carrie Lam to step down as leader along with five other demands reflected in Leung's last stand: Complete withdrawal of the China extradition bill! Stop labeling protests as riots! Drop charges against protesters! Conduct independent investigations into excessive use of police force! Implement universal suffrage for both Legislative Council and the Chief Executive!

Since his death, Leung’s yellow raincoat has become a protest symbol, while protesters have vowed that they will carry on his path and force the fulfilment of his demands.

Leung Ling-kit. 1984/3/7 – 2019/6/15. Aged 35 years old.

It has been a year since you left us. I remember that you were the first person who said the Five Demands. Hong Kongers never forget. Marco Leung Ling-kit, a fighter for justice, he was pushed to fall by the regime. I can’t forget and will never forget.

Authorities drag feet

Another protester, Chow Tsz-Lok, 22, fell from a car park during a riot police operation around midnight on November 8, 2019.

The death was suspicious as Chow was sending out text messages to fellow protesters, containing information about the whereabouts of riot police at the time of his death.

Moreover, he only fell from the third level to the second level of the car park — just a few meters in height. Many believe that he was murdered.

The Coroner’s Court is still yet to launch inquiries into the causes and circumstances of both Leung and Chow’s deaths.

Leung’s father told journalists that Hong Kong police has delayed handing over the investigative report to the court.

Ahead of the anniversary of Marco Leung’s tragic fall, Civil Human Rights Front, a coalition of local non-governmental organizations, urged citizens to commemorate Leung by putting flowers outside the Pacific Place shopping mall.

Thousands answered the call, despite the heavy presence of riot police.

Eventually, the queue grew to such a size that people had to wait for two hours to place the flowers outside the shopping mall.

The crowds outside the mall continued into the early hours of June 16, while pro-democracy district councillors set up temporary memorials in other parts of the city to allow local residents to pay their tributes.

The number one cause for suicide is untreated depression. Depression is treatable and suicide is preventable. You can get help from confidential support lines for the suicidal and those in emotional crisis. Visit Befrienders.org to find a suicide prevention helpline in your country.

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