Millions of protesters in the streets of Hong Kong unexpectedly adapted the song “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” as they march against a controversial extradition bill. The protesters are marching against the bill that will allow extraditions to mainland China.
The song, composed by Linda Stassen-Benjamin in the United States in 1974 for Easter, was introduced by Christian groups participating in the movement and, for the past week, it was heard almost non-stop in their main gatherings, including marches, protests in front of the city’s Legislative Council, and during stand-offs with peacekeepers.
Church groups started joining the movement of millions of protesters after the increasing claims of police brutality during the protests. The Chinese government announced that they will start the crackdown of organized riots to ensure the safety of both protesters and the police.
Edwin Chow, acting president of the Hong Kong Federation of Catholic Students, said during an interview with Reuters that the assembly of the religious groups aims to protect the protesters and to show that it is a peaceful protest. He added that the people picked up the song since the lyrics are easy to follow, with a simple message and easy melody.
The protesters said that the Christian song helped diffuse tensions with the police and, over the past 10 days, contributed to largely peaceful protests despite reports of crowd dispersal using tear gas and rubber bullets on Wednesday last week.
According to Timothy Lam, a Catholic priest at Grace Church Hong Kong, the song has a calming effect and the students sing it to show that they were peaceful.
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive and a devoted Catholic, apologized and postponed the introduction of the bill.
The leader said that she heard the call of the protesters “loud and clear” and ordered to postpone the bill. Most of the protesters are students and they are demanding the withdrawal of the bill. They are also urging the government to drop all the charges against activists arrested in recent protests.
The critics of the bill claim that it risks the autonomy of Hong Kong’s independent judiciary and undermines the rule of law. The new bill will allow suspected criminals to be sent back to the mainland for trial in a Chinese court.
The Chinese government announced that they support the decision of Hong Kong’s executive to suspend the extradition bill. The Chinese government assures that it will not trample on human rights and they criticized the foreign forces that are trying to damage the country by causing chaos over the extradition bill.
Human rights groups are urging Hong Kong to decline the bill over alleged use of torture, arbitrary detentions, forced confessions and problems accessing lawyers in China.