Those arrested include the “father of Hong Kong democracy” Martin Lee, trade unionist Lee Cheuk-yan, and barrister Margaret Ng. All of them are accused of “organising and participating in unlawful assemblies” on 18 August and 1 October 2019. For pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo, it is the start of a “reign of terror”.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Yesterday’s arrests by Hong Kong police of 15 leading pro-democracy figures is "obviously political persecution,” reads a statement by the diocesan Justice and Peace Commission, which calls for a stop to every arrest until an independent commission is set up to vet the work of the police, based on the five demands expressed for months by the anti-extradition bill movement.
Yesterday Hong Kong police took into custody 15 prominent members of the pro-democracy movement, accusing them of "organising and participating in unlawful assemblies".
Since June 2019, protests have been held every weekend in Hong Kong calling for a proposed extradition bill to be scrapped. Eventually the rallies began to demand full democracy for the territory and guarantees for Hong Kong’s way of life, on the basis of the principle of “one country, two systems”.
Those arrested include high-profile individuals like former Democratic Party president Martin Lee, called "the father of Hong Kong democracy"; Albert Ho, also from the Democratic Party; trade unionist and former lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan; Leung Yiu-chung, Yeung Sum, Au Nok-hin, Richard Tsoi, Sin Chung-kai, Cyd Ho.
Tycoon Jimmy Lai and prominent barrister Margaret Ng, who is a member of the Civic Party, were also arrested. Many of those arrested were later released on bail.
Police had authorised a rally on August 18 in Victoria Park, but the presence of 1.7 million people spilled over into nearby streets and squares. For the police, this was illegal. The demonstration on 1 October had not been allowed and for this reason has been deemed a riot.
Some Hong Kong lawmakers, like Claudia Mo, have described the police action as the beginning of a "reign of terror". According to Mo, the government is terrified that the opposition might win a majority in the next legislative elections in September.
Pictured (from top left): Leung Yiu-chung, Avery Ng, Lee Cheuk-yan, Albert Ho, Martin Lee, Figo Chan, Jimmy Lai, Sin Chung-kai, Cyd Ho, Au Nok-hin, Margaret Ng, Yeung Sum, Raphael Wong, Leung Kwok-hung, Richard Tsoi (Credit: SCMP)