08/18/2021, 12.49
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Four Hong Kong student leaders arrested for ‘advocating’ terrorism

A controversial statement about an attack that took place a month ago against a police officer is the basis for their arrest. If found guilty, they face up to 10 years in prison. Thanks to Hong Kong’s controversial security law, the crackdown on activists and opponents continues. Those who can, especially young people and couples, try to escape.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Four student leaders from one of Hong Kong's top universities were arrested today charged with “advocating” terrorism, police said.

The arrests were motivated by a controversial statement concerning an attack that took place last month by a "lone wolf" against a police officer.

“Four men aged between 18 and 20 were arrested today; they are members of the student union and the student union council,” said senior superintendent Steve Li, from the city's national security police unit.

On 1 July, a man stabbed and wounded a police officer in a busy shopping district before taking his own life in what authorities called an act of "domestic terrorism".

Soon after, the University of Hong Kong's (HKU) student union released a statement expressing “deep sadness” over the attacker's death and appreciation for his "sacrifice".

Right away, the words sparked a controversy and were eventually retracted by the student union itself, which then offered its apologies. Later, police raided the union's offices and undergraduate office.

Speaking to media today, Li said that the statement “beautified, rationalised, glorified terrorism and an indiscriminate attack and encouraged suicidal acts”.

If found guilty, the four face up to 10 years in prison under the controversial National Security Law, imposed by Beijing last year to crack down on protests by the pro-democracy movement.

Since its inception, the law has been used several times to criminalise and wipe out domestic dissent and has led to the banning of 30 political and professional groups, plus the closure of a NGO, the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund.

In the latest episode in a long series of warnings by the government to follow the Beijing line, Hong Kong authorities yesterday attacked one of the territory’s main law bodies, telling it not to get involved in local politics.

With more than 12,000 members, the Law Society is Hong Kong’s largest solicitors’ association. Next week it will elect five of its 20 council members and pro-establishment figures are concerned that more liberal, pro-democracy minded lawyers might win. 

In an editorial, the People's Daily, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece, warned Law Society members against electing “anti-China elements” and choose “professionalism rather than politics”.

All this further confirms that since the infamous security law was introduced last year, both repression and anti-mainland feelings have increased.

Behind the veil of seeming normality, more and more young people and families are trying to flee, especially couples in their 20s and 40s with children who want a future elsewhere.

Last Sunday, the authorities dissolved the Civil Human Rights Front, which sponsored many street rallies over the past 20 years, including the annual 1 July march between 2003 to 2020.

The crackdown affects political parties, media, trade unions and NGOs and is aimed at silencing dissent and criticism, removing independent groups and undermining the independence of various groups, thus pushing more and more people to quietly leave the city.

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