sunny.png
Monday August 2nd, 2021 12:25PM

Reports: Dozens of Hong Kong pro-democracy figures arrested

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong police arrested about 50 pro-democracy figures Wednesday for allegedly violating the new national security law by participating in an unofficial primary election last year held to increase their chances of controlling the legislature, according to political parties and local media.

Those arrested on suspicion of subversion included former lawmakers and pro-democracy activists, the South China Morning Post and online platform Now News reported.

The mass arrests were the largest move against Hong Kong’s democracy movement since the national security law was imposed by Beijing in the semi-autonomous territory in June last year. Police did not immediately comment on the arrests.

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

Benny Tai, a key figure in Hong Kong's 2014 Occupy Central protests and a former law professor, was also arrested by the police, according to local media reports. Tai was one of the main organizers of the primaries.

The home of Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy activist who is serving a 13 1/2-month prison sentence for organizing and participating in an unauthorized protest last year, was also raided, according to a tweet posted from Wong's account.

According to tallies based on local media reports of the arrests, all the pro-democracy candidates who had participated in the unofficial primaries were arrested.

Police also went to the headquarters of Stand News, a prominent pro-democracy online news site in Hong Kong, with a court order to hand over documents to assist in an investigation related to the national security law, according to a livestreamed video by Stand News. No arrests were made.

In recent months, Hong Kong has already jailed several pro-democracy activists including Wong and Agnes Chow for their involvement in antigovernment protests, and others have been charged under the national security law including media tycoon and outspoken pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai.

The security law criminalizes acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers to intervene in the city’s affairs. Serious offenders could face up a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

Pro-democracy activists and lawmakers had last July held an unofficial primary election to figure out which candidates they should field in a now-postponed legislative election that would boost their chances of gaining a majority of seats in legislature. Gaining a majority would allow the pro-democracy camp to vote against bills they deemed to be pro-Beijing, block budgets and paralyze the government.

More than 600,000 Hong Kongers voted in the primaries, although pro-Beijing lawmakers and politicians criticized the event and warned that it could breach the security law, which was imposed on the city by Beijing to quash dissent following months of antigovernment protests.

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said in July last year that if the primary election was aimed at resisting every policy initiative by the Hong Kong government, that it may fall under subverting state power, an offence under the national security law.

Beijing also blasted the primaries as illegal, calling it a “serious provocation” of Hong Kong’s electoral system.

Following the handover of Hong Kong to China by the British in 1997, the semi-autonomous Chinese city has operated on a “one country, two systems” framework that affords it freedoms not found on the mainland. In recent years, Beijing has asserted more control over the city, drawing criticism that Hong Kong’s freedoms were under attack.

The legislative elections, originally slated to be held in September, were later postponed for a year after Lam said that holding elections would be a risk to public health given the coronavirus pandemic. The pro-democracy camp denounced the postponement as unconstitutional.

In November, all of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers resigned en masse after Beijing passed a resolution that led to the disqualification of four of its camp, leaving a largely pro-Beijing legislature.

“Beijing once again has failed to learn from its mistakes in Hong Kong: that repression generates resistance, and that millions of Hong Kong people will persist in their struggle for their right to vote and run for office in a democratically elected government,” Human Rights Watch’s senior China researcher Maya Wang said in a statement on Wednesday’s arrests.

In further remarks to The Associated Press, Wang said it wasn’t clear what provisions of the law were being cited to justify the arrests, but that local authorities seem less concerned with legal substance.

“The very nature of the national security law is as a draconian blanket law allowing the government to arrest and potentially imprison people for long terms for exercising their constitutionally protected rights,” Wang said.

“The veneer of rule of law is also applied in mainland China stripped of any meaning. Hong Kong is looking more like mainland China but where one ends and the other begins is hard to discern,” she said.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP World News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
AP VoteCast: GOP voters in Georgia back Trump's false claims
About three-quarters of voters who backed Republican candidates in Georgia’s Senate runoffs say President-elect Joe Biden was not legitimately elected in November
7:45PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Georgia counting votes in runoffs that decide Senate control
Georgia officials have begun counting the final votes of the nation’s turbulent 2020 election season as polls closed in two critical races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and, in turn, the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda
7:45PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Georgia counting ballots in crucial Senate runoff elections
Georgia officials have begun counting the final votes of the nation’s turbulent 2020 election season as polls closed in two critical races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and, in turn, the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda
7:38PM ( 30 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Hundreds of Trump supporters flock to DC ahead of vote
Hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump have descended on the nation’s capital to cheer his baseless claims of election fraud a day before a congressional vote to affirm Joe Biden’s election victory
7:17PM ( 50 minutes ago )
A final EPA rollback under Trump curbs use of health studies
The Environmental Protection Agency has released one of its last major rollbacks under the Trump administration
7:14PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Republican Party faces defining moment under Trump's shadow
The Republican Party is facing a defining moment
7:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Trump's false fraud claims resonate with GOP
President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims about the 2020 election have resonated with Republican voters in Georgia: About 7 in 10 agree with his false assertion that Joe Biden is not the legitimately elected president
6:07PM ( 2 hours ago )
Georgia deciding US Senate control in election's final day
Georgians are casting their ballots in two critical races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and, in turn, the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda
6:01PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: Ga. Public Broadcasting denied GOP party access
Georgia Public Broadcasting says its reporters have been denied access to the Georgia GOP’s election night watch party
5:50PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Pandemic haunts new year as virus growth outpaces vaccines
Despite growing vaccine access, January is looking grim around the globe as the virus resurges and reshapes itself from Britain to Japan to California
7:05PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: NY officials offer competing vaccine strategies
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are offering competing strategies for ramping up New York’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts
5:00PM ( 3 hours ago )
Gulf Arab leaders sign declaration to ease rift with Qatar
Gulf Arab leaders signed a declaration to ease a rift with Qatar, following Saudi Arabia’s decision to end a 3 1/2-year embargo of the tiny energy-rich country that deeply divided regional U.S. security allies and frayed social ties across the Arabian Peninsula
4:20PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP World News
AP VoteCast: GOP voters in Georgia back Trump's false claims
About three-quarters of voters who backed Republican candidates in Georgia’s Senate runoffs say President-elect Joe Biden was not legitimately elected in November
7:45PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Georgia counting votes in runoffs that decide Senate control
Georgia officials have begun counting the final votes of the nation’s turbulent 2020 election season as polls closed in two critical races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and, in turn, the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda
7:45PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Georgia counting ballots in crucial Senate runoff elections
Georgia officials have begun counting the final votes of the nation’s turbulent 2020 election season as polls closed in two critical races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate and, in turn, the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s legislative agenda
7:38PM ( 30 minutes ago )
N. Korea's Kim opens congress with policy failures admission
Leader Kim Jong Un has opened North Korea's first ruling party congress in five years with an admission of policy failures and a vow to set new developmental goals
7:30PM ( 37 minutes ago )
Mexico to vaccinate rural elderly, but still awaits vaccine
Once Mexico has vaccinated its frontline medical workers against COVID-19, the government will turn its attention to the elderly living in its most remote places
7:29PM ( 38 minutes ago )