Dozens arrested in sweeping Hong Kong crackdown | Civil Rights Information

Dozens of Hong Kong opposition politicians and activists were arrested on Wednesday under the territory’s national security law and accused of “subversion” of the Democratic primary elections held in July last year to vote their candidates for general election, which was eventually postponed.

Police confirmed that 53 people between the ages of 23 and 64 were arrested in the raids, which began early in the morning and represent the largest crack to date under a security law passed by Beijing on June 30.

“You are suspected of subversion,” Superintendent Li Kwai-wah told the media.

Six were arrested for undermining state power by organizing the unofficial primaries, while the rest were arrested for attending the event, Li said. About 1,000 police officers participated in the raids, warning that further arrests could be made.

Security Secretary John Lee said the group planned to do “serious harm” to society and that the authorities would not tolerate subversive acts.

“Today’s operation is targeting those active elements suspected of being implicated in the crime of falling or serious interference in order to destroy the legal fulfillment of duties by the Hong Kong government,” Lee told reporters.

The Democratic Party – the city’s largest opposition party – said former police arrested people for participating in the primaries for the now belated Legco (Legco) elections. At the time, the Hong Kong and Beijing governments said the primaries, in which hundreds of thousands of people were voting, could violate national security law.

Those arrested include former lawmakers, district councils, academics, student activists and the organizers of last year’s mass marches against an extradition law that has since been deferred.

‘Political prisoner’

At a press conference to combat the mass arrests, Hong Kong democracy activists called on the government to release “political prisoners”. They said the raids were “shameful” and represented the suppression of the right to vote.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying defended the magnet, saying it only hindered “the freedom of some external forces and individuals” in Hong Kong to “work together to try to undermine China’s stability and security.”

All pro-democracy candidates in the unofficial primaries were arrested, according to the South China Morning Post, the online platform Now News and the political groups.

At least seven members of the Democratic Party were arrested, including former party leader Wu Chi-wai. Former lawmakers Lam Cheuk-ting, Helena Wong and James To were also arrested, according to a post on the party’s Facebook page.

In a video that Lam posted on his Facebook page, police showed up at his home and told him he was “suspected of violating national security law and undermining state power”.

Benny Tai, a key figure in the 2014 Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong and a former law professor, was also arrested. Tai was one of the main organizers of the primaries.

According to local media, John Clancey, an American citizen who works in a law firm that has represented many opposition politicians, was also arrested. The video showed the white-haired Clancey, who is also the treasurer of the group that helped organize the primaries, and a permanent resident in Hong Kong leaving his office with police officers.

American attorney John Clancey leaves a building when police officers take him away in Hong Kong, China, on January 6, 2021 [Lam Yik/ Reuters]Pro-democracy activist Lester Shum is taken away by police after over 50 Hong Kong activists were arrested under the security law on January 6, 2021 in Hong Kong, China, as crackdowns increase [Tyrone Siu/ Reuters]”The Chinese government has decided to mark 2021 with full arrests of over 50 prominent democracy activists in Hong Kong to remove the remaining veneer of democracy in the city,” Human Rights Watch China researcher Maya Wang said in one Explanation. “Beijing has again failed to learn from its mistakes in Hong Kong: This repression creates resistance and millions of people in Hong Kong will continue to fight for their right to vote and run for office in a democratically elected government.”

Legco has 70 members, but only half are selected by direct elections, and the pro-democracy camp hoped the primaries would help them form a powerful group that could better question the executive and hold the territory administration accountable.

In any case, the elections didn’t even take place – the government delayed the elections for a year until September 2021, citing the risk of coronavirus.

“We strongly condemn the arrest of 52 (sic) pro-democracy politicians who took part in the primaries last July, which were attended by more than 600,000 Hong Kong residents,” said the Hong Kong Democracy Council, a Washington DC-based group, who advocates the freedoms and freedoms of the territory autonomy. “Make no mistake – authoritarian regimes and dictators do.”

In the primaries, people line up to choose the democratic candidates for the parliamentary elections in Hong Kong last July [Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

‘An attack’

Beijing imposed security laws – passed in record time and unsupervised by Hong Kong – declaring the need to address “separatism” and “foreign interference” in 2019 after months of sometimes violent protests sparked by plans for an extradition law with the mainland, but evolved into broader demands for democracy.

The law punishes crimes of secession, riot, and collusion with foreign armed forces with life sentences. The details of the legislation were not disclosed until after it was passed.

I can’t even.
It’s 7 a.m.
It’s barely 2021.

and the HK government is trying to arrest the entire opposition. for wanting to win a majority in elections. say this is “subversion”.

Hello world, time to wake up.

– lokman tsui @ (@lokmantsui) January 5, 2021

In July last year I wrote: “It seems quite possible that the authorities are using these” illegal “primaries as a basis for disqualifying the masses and even for arresting pan-democratic politicians involved in the primaries.” Unfortunately in HK the most extreme possibilities are everyday reality.

– Antony Dapiran (@antd) January 6, 2021

The law sparked criticism that it would destroy the freedoms and autonomy promised for at least 50 years under the terms of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule in 1997.

The United States, already embroiled in a trade war with China, withdrew Hong Kong’s special status after enacting the law that the territory lost its autonomy. It has also imposed sanctions on top officials from China and Hong Kong, including executive director Carrie Lam.

On Wednesday, comments from new US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Twitter suggested that the new administration, which will take office after Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, would maintain its tough stance.

“The widespread arrests of demonstrators who campaign for democracy are an attack on those who valiantly campaign for universal rights,” wrote Blinken. “The Biden Harris government will stand with the people of Hong Kong and Beijing’s crackdown on democracy.”

Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House of Representatives’ foreign affairs committee, said the security bill is being used to “ruthlessly attack Hong Kongers.”

So far, four people have been charged under the law, including media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who was returned to prison last month after the government appealed a court order to bail him under strict conditions that confined him to his home .

Al Jazeera’s Adrian Brown, who is in Hong Kong, said Wednesday’s move was “very significant. It is the largest mass arrest we have seen since the National Security Law was passed in Hong Kong. “

As the crackdown resumed Wednesday, police also visited the home of prominent activist Joshua Wong, who was detained last month for attending an unauthorized gathering, and the offices of a number of online media groups including Apple Daily, In-Media and Booth News with the latter’s journalists streaming the arrival of the police on Facebook. The media groups were given seven days to provide “documents related to national security incidents”.

“This ruthless legislation gives Beijing and Hong Kong authorities the freedom to destroy dissenting views and puts all government critics at risk with imprisonment,” Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s regional director for Asia-Pacific, said in a statement.

“Accusing dozens of pro-democracy lawmakers and activists of ‘subversion’ simply for holding their own informal primary competition is an obvious assault on their rights to peaceful expression and association. People have a legitimate right to participate in public affairs. Political opposition shouldn’t be silenced just because the authorities don’t like it. “

Comments are closed.