Hundreds of thousands of residents have poured out on to the streets to oppose a controversial extradition law with China.

Hong Kong is witnessing its largest street protests since China took over the island from Britain in 1997.

The proposed bill allows the extradition of suspected criminals to China, Taiwan, and Macau, for crimes such as rape and murder.

Organisers say a million people, or one seventh of the island’s population, came out to protest over fears that the law could open the way to torture and political persecution under the Chinese judicial system.

On Friday, the situation seemed to have calmed but more protests are planned.

Under China’s ‘one country, two systems’ administration of Hong Kong, residents of Hong Kong are entitled to free assembly, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.

The area therefore has a long history of protest, here are four of the most memorable.

1967 riots

Hong Kong’s bloodiest unrest started in 1967 when 51 people were killed and more than 800 injured in protests organised by left-wing activists energised by the Cultural Revolution in neighbouring China.

Riot policemen has throat choke hold on one young teenage rioter while two other police bind arms of second rioter, May 1967.
Riot policemen has throat choke hold on one young teenage rioter while two other police bind arms of second rioter, May 1967. (AP)

The protests were fueled by inequality in living conditions between labourers and the ruling class, as well as anger over British colonial rule.

Article 23 protests

On July 1, 2003, half a million people came out on to the streets to protest proposed changed to Hong Kong’s laws, which they believed threatened freedom of speech.

The protests led to several government resignations and officials later reigned in their plans.

In July 1, 2003 file photo, tens of thousands of people pack a Hong Kong street while marching to Hong Kong government headquarters to protest the Hong Kong government's plans to enact an anti-subversion bill that critics fear will curtail civil liberties.
In July 1, 2003 file photo, tens of thousands of people pack a Hong Kong street while marching to Hong Kong government headquarters to protest the Hong Kong government's plans to enact an anti-subversion bill that critics fear will curtail civil liberties. (AP)

Each year since, Hong Kong residents have organised protests to celebrate the right to protest.

The Umbrella Movement of 2014

In October 2014, tens of thousands gathered in Hong Kong to protest over fears the Beijing intented to renege on an agreement to hold elections by 2017. 

The umbrella took on a symbolic meaning as protesters used them to block tear gas cannisters fired by the police during sit-in protests.

In October 9, 2014, file photo, a protester holds an umbrella during a performance on a main road in the occupied areas outside government headquarters in Hong Kong's Admiralty. The color yellow was closely associated with massive pro-democracy protests known as the Umbrella Movement.
In October 9, 2014, file photo, a protester holds an umbrella during a performance on a main road in the occupied areas outside government headquarters in Hong Kong's Admiralty. The color yellow was closely associated with massive pro-democracy protests known as the Umbrella Movement. (AP)

Extradition protests of 2019

The most recent protests are the largest since Britain took over the island in 1997.

On Sunday up to a million people came out to protest, although police put the figure at 240,000.

Protesters chanted "Scrap the evil law!" and "Oppose China extradition!".

Protesters gesture to riot police during a massive demonstration outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, Wednesday, June 12, 2019.
Protesters gesture to riot police during a massive demonstration outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, Wednesday, June 12, 2019. (AP)
Source: TRT World