Hong Kong – In a series of raids at dawn on Wednesday, police have arrested dozens of Hong Kong’s most prominent opposition figures, and some have said they are accused of subversion under the National Security Act imposed by Beijing last year.
Since around 6 a.m., the police began arresting politicians’ homes, according to accounts on the social media sites of some of the detainees. They said that the arrests were related to their participation in the unofficial primary elections held by the Democratic camp last year before the planned legislative elections.
The police operation is the largest since A comprehensive national security law was enforced Six months ago, activists said the first arrests were related to alleged sabotage, a serious crime under this law. The scale and personality of the arrested persons, who make up most of the opposition in Hong Kong, represent a dramatic escalation in the authorities’ efforts to crush dissent in the city, which has ravaged them. Months of anti-government protests in the streets In 2019.
Less than two weeks after the security law was imposed, on the weekend of July 11 and 12, the opposition camp was He participated in the self-organizing primaries To select the preferred candidates for the elections scheduled for September. The aim was to improve the chances of obtaining a majority in the legislature, which participants said would allow them to block government legislation. Organizers said at the time that about 600,000 fans had voted.
Several politicians were told weeks later that their nominations were invalid, as authorities expressed concerns about their loyalty to the city and its constitution. Shortly after disqualifying, the government postponed elections for a year, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
The Democratic camp resigned en masse in November after many Their peers were expelled from the legislature To betray loyalty after a ruling from Beijing.
Police have not commented on the arrests.
Among those arrested on Wednesday were politicians from a number of pro-democracy parties, including former lawmakers James Tue and Alvin Young and new generation activists such as Gwyneth Hu, a former journalist, and Lester Schum, who was a student leader for 79 years. Occupying the street in 2014, known as the parachute movement.
Legal academic Benny Tay, one of the organizers of the primaries, has also been arrested, according to local media. And the chief pollster is Robert Chung, who helped with logistics. Authorities also visited Joshua Wong’s home, according to social media posts from friends writing on his behalf. he is He is already serving a prison sentence To hold a protest in 2019.
“This is disgraceful and ridiculous. How can people who run in the primaries to select candidates be subversive?” Said Emily Lau, who served seven terms as a lawmaker and previously headed the city’s Democratic Party. “It is a blatant attempt to intimidate pro-democracy activists and warn people against engaging in politics and cooperation.”
Ing Ken Wai recorded his arrest in a Facebook Live broadcast, in which a police officer is shown telling him that he was arrested for participating in the primaries aimed at causing dysfunction in the Hong Kong government – sabotage, under the National Security Act. In the video, an officer said, citing academics’ writings in the media, that it was Mr Tae who came up with the idea of the primaries to reform the Hong Kong system.
Sunny Cheung, a participant in the primaries, said the arrests showed that his decision to flee abroad after the National Security Act came into effect was correct, though painful.
“This is clearly a political purge to wipe out the entire pro-democracy camp,” said Mr. Cheung. “The purge will continue.”
The law, which Beijing imposed on June 30 after massive pro-democracy protests that brought the city to a standstill in 2019, gives authorities broad freedom to prosecute people for acts deemed collusion, separatism, or sedition.
Winxin Fan contributed to writing this article.
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It appeared on the January 6, 2021, edition of “Hong Kong Police Gather Dozens of Opposition Figures”.