Hong Kong (AP) – Eight leading figures in the democracy movement were arrested in one fell swoop against the opposition in Hong Kong.
The background to the arrests, according to police, is the unauthorized protests on July 1, the anniversary of the return of the former British Crown Colony to China in 1997. It was also the day that the controversial new national security law went into effect in the Special Administrative Region. of China.
Those arrested are accused of organizing, initiating or participating in a protest march and an illegal rally, police said. They include activists and ex-MPs such as former Democratic Party Chairman Wu Chi Wai, as well as Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and “Longhair” Leung Kwok-hung, according to media reports and information from social media opposition circles.
Figo Chan, a leader of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) that organized the anniversary demonstrations and other protests, was also arrested, according to the South China Morning Post. The July 1 protest, which was not allowed in connection with the corona pandemic, had attracted thousands of people who demonstrated against Beijing’s harsh course. Nearly 400 participants were arrested.
The arrests also met with criticism from Germany. “These arrests will not only continue, they will increase, and above all, they will increasingly end in prison terms,” said Gyde Jensen (FDP), chairman of the Bundestag’s human rights commission. “Now the point is to silence and discredit the democracy movement.” The EU should follow the US and put those responsible in Hong Kong at the top of the list of the new EU sanctions mechanism for human rights violators.
A week ago, prominent head of the democracy movement, Joshua Wong, and colleagues Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam were sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven months to just over a year on similar allegations by the illegal rally in June 2019.
Media mogul and prominent supporter of the democracy movement, Jimmy Lai, was also arrested. The owner of the China-critical newspaper Apple Daily was denied bail after he and two of his employees were arrested on charges of fraud. They are accused of subletting offices to another company without permission.
Eight people who participated in an unauthorized protest at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) on Nov. 19 were arrested on Monday. Three students are suspected of having called for Hong Kong’s independence, thereby violating the new security law.