They belong to the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China and had refused to cooperate with the police for national security. The pro-democracy group is accused of being a foreign agent. As in the case of the Teachers Union and the Civil Human Rights Front, the Alliance now considers disbanding.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Police this morning arrested four leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which every year on June 4 organizes the traditional vigil in memory of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.
The arrests were triggered after the pro-democracy group refused yesterday to give law enforcement information about its activities and financial resources, violating Article 43 of the draconian national security law imposed by Beijing.
The authorities accuse the Alliance of serving foreign governments. The leaders of the 32-year-old organization have rejected the accusation, saying that the police's demands have no legal basis. They stressed that they are indeed "agents" but of Hong Kong people’s conscience," and that it is not up to Chief Executive Carrie Lam to determine who represents Hong Kong's civil society.
The arrests have affected the vice president of the Alliance Chow Hang-tung and three members of its committee: Leung Kam-wai, Chan To-wai and Tang Ngok-kwan: they risk up to six months in prison and a fine of 100 thousand HK dollars (about 10,900 euros).
This is not the first time the police have arrested Chow. A lawyer, the Alliance leader today was supposed to debate the bail request for Gwyneth Ho, among the 47 activists arrested on February 28 for organizing or taking part in the summer 2020 Democratic Front primaries.
Yesterday, City Security Secretary Chris Tang promised swift action against those who refuse to cooperate with the National Security Police and did not rule out more arrests.
The alliance has been targeted by the executive branch and pro-Beijing figures for months, who are calling for its dissolution under the security law.
Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho, among the most important figures of the democratic group, are already in jail on charges of participating in unauthorized demonstrations in 2019. At the end of the month, a meeting will decide whether to disband the organization or not.
In an editorial published by the Hong Kong Free Press on the eve of the arrests, the president of the City Association of Journalists Chris Yeung, writes that accusing the Alliance of being a foreign agent "defies common sense." He adds that accusing thousands of people who paid tribute to Tiananmen victims of being part of a foreign plot to undermine national security "is an insult to the collective conscience."
Under pressure from the authorities, two other historic organizations such as the Teachers' Union and the Civil Human Rights Front recently disbanded. The former was the city's largest trade union, the latter the leading democratic coalition.