Hong Kong police arrest dozens of anti-politicians over alleged subversion

Police arrested dozens of pro-democracy individuals in an investigation into alleged attitudes under the Hong Kong China National Security Act, targeting the leadership of the massive opposition camp since the law was imposed by China six months ago.

Those detained early Wednesday included most pro-democracy politicians who attended last year’s mid-term legislative elections in the city, as well as other high-profile activists and academics. The move marks a dramatic increase in efforts to quell protests in the global financial center, which was opposed in 2019 by months of anti-government protests.

The arrests, which began at 6 a.m. at the home of the detainees, were related to unofficial primaries held last year by the Democratic Camp for the selection of candidates ahead of the planned assembly elections, some of the detainees said on social media. Police declined to comment.

Emily Lou, a seven-term legislator and former city Democratic Party president, said it was a futile attempt to intimidate pro-democracy activists and warn people not to get involved in politics and cooperation.

A large number of opposition figures point to Beijing’s gesture to quell protests in the city despite the chorus of international condemnation. China has been repeatedly criticized by the Trump administration for undermining the city’s partial autonomy through arrests, disqualification of election candidates and other actions.

“The arrest of pro-democracy protesters is an attack on the courageous advocates of universal rights,” Anthony Blink, the presidential candidate for President-elect Biden, said in a post on Twitter. “The Biden-Harris administration will be with the people of Hong Kong and against the torture on Beijing’s democracy.”

Activists say Hong Kong risks tarnishing its reputation as a safe haven for international businesses and foreign professionals as the right to free speech and assembly is abolished. Last year there were street protests amid the coronavirus epidemic that police cited a ban on such gatherings, but some legislators and other political opponents were speaking out to protect people’s freedom and criticize the government.

The city’s chief executive, Carrie Lum, praised the national security law for bringing stability to the city. In December, he told the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit audience that with law and order in the city through the implementation of security laws, Hong Kong has created promising prospects and this is a “time” for businesses to invest. City.

The new law shows a massive increase in the number of people arrested on Wednesday, giving officials a broad latitude to legalize people for engagement, divorce and treason. Earlier Wednesday, about 40 people were arrested under the law, while state media revealed that about 30 deported activists are on the wanted list.

Prosecutors have so far brought charges against four people, including media mogul Jimmy Lai, under the Security Act.

One of the people arrested on Wednesday, Ng Kin-yi, recorded his arrest in a Facebook live stream. In the recording, a police official said he was charged with sabotage for participating in primaries aimed at bringing the Hong Kong government to a standstill, an offense under national security law.

China passed a national security law for Hong Kong aimed at quelling anti-government protests after a year of unrest. Josh Chin of WSJ explains why some countries have criticized the law and why critics say it could threaten the city’s status as a global financial hub. Photo: May James / Zuma Press

In July, as part of a political strategy to select candidates for the scheduled elections in September, the opposition camp took part in self-organized primaries, less than two weeks after the security law went into effect. The goal of the program was to get a majority in the 0-seat assembly, which some participants said they would use to block government legislation. Organizers then said about 600,000 members voted in public.

The city’s chief executive, Mrs Lama, warned at the time that the opposition’s goal of objecting to every policy initiative of the government could fall into the category of overthrowing state power.

Many who attended the primaries were told weeks later that their candidacies for the September election were invalid, with officials expressing concern about their loyalty to the city and its constitution. Shortly after the disqualification, the government postponed the elections for a year, citing the coronavirus epidemic, and extended the sitting legislature.

In November, Beijing forcibly expelled four pro-democracy members from the interim legislature for infidelity. This led to the resignation of the pro-democracy camp and was criticized as the presence of institutions elected by some foreign governments.

“How can people who participate in primary elections break down to choose candidates?”

– Emily Lou, former MLA

Wednesday’s arrest raises suspicions that protests in the former British colony, which already has limited democratic institutions, are being cut.

“This is embarrassing and ridiculous. How can people who participate in primary elections to choose candidates be disastrous ?, former MLA Ms. Lou said.

Among those arrested on Wednesday were politicians from several pro-democracy parties, including former legislators James Two and Alvin Young and activists from the new pay generation, according to social media accounts. Was a student leader during the daytime street business.

Local media said authorities arrested Benny Tai, a legal educator who is one of the organizers of the priorities; And top poster Robert Chung, who helped with the logistics. Officials also visited the home of Joshua Wong, who is currently serving a prison sentence for staging a protest in 2019, according to friends’ social-media posts written on his behalf.

Sunny Cheng, who has since fled abroad in the primaries, said the decision to leave his hometown after the National Security Act came into force shows it is painful, though painful.

“This is obviously the political sanctity of destroying the pro-democracy camp,” Mr Cheung said. “Purity will continue.”

Write to Natasha Khan at [email protected]

Copyright Pirate 20 2020 Dow Jones & Co., Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8