Editor Jimmy Lai, Democrats Lee Cheuk-yan and Yeung Sum arrested for illegal demonstration
by Paul Wang

The three are due to appear before judges on May 5. All accused of participating in the illegal march on August 31, which ended with police violence in Prince Edward station. The new policy of Xia Baolong, a friend of Xi Jinping, against the democratic movement.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Three personalities of the democratic movement - Jimmy Lai, Lee Cheuk-yan and Yeung Sum, were arrested this morning by the police for participating in an illegal march on August 31, during the anti-extradition and anti-government demonstrations that continued in Hong Kong since last June.

Jimmy Lai (photo 1), a Catholic, is the publisher and founder of the Apple Daily newspaper, known for his critical positions towards the Chinese communist dictatorship. Lee Cheuk-yan (photo 2) is a trade unionist and former parliamentarian, activist for democracy in Hong Kong and China, among the most important vigils organizers in memory of the Tiananmen massacre that takes place every year in the territory. Yeung Sum (photo 3) is an academic, member of the Democratic Party, also a former parliamentarian.

All three were taken from their homes this morning and taken to the police station. In the early afternoon they were released on bail. The three are accused of participating in a march on August 31, which the police had denied permission for.

The march, within the anti-extradition demonstrations, had been requested by the Civil Front for Human Rights, which in recent months has organized rallies with over two million people. After the police refusal of the permit, the Front canceled the event, but many activists launched the idea of ​​meeting in the streets of the center of the island, for "tourism" or for "shopping and dinner", challenging the ban . Others have organized religious "processions", since for religious gatherings there is no need for permission from the police.

The demonstration with hundreds of thousands of participants ran peacefully until the evening, when clashes between police and radical demonstrators began, and ended with the bloody police violence in Prince Edward's subway station against young protesters and passengers.

According to members of the Labor and Democratic Party, to which Lee and Yeung belong, the arrests of these personalities, symbol of the struggle for democracy, are an attempt to cripple the democratic movement.

Other observers point out that the police move reveals China's new and harsher policy towards Hong Kong demonstrations. A few weeks ago, Xi Jinping appointed his trusted Xia Baolong (photo 4), former party secretary in Zhejiang, to head the Hong Kong-China relations office.

During his tenure, in the name of urban needs, Xia launched a three-year campaign to destroy the crosses and demolish the churches. Between the end of 2013 and April 2016, around 1,500 churches, mostly Protestant, were removed and affected.

Jimmy Lai, Lee Cheuk-yan and Yeung Sum will stand before the judge together on May 5th. Lai is also accused of railing against an Oriental Daily reporter during a demonstration in memory of the Tiananmen massacres in June 2017. The Oriental Daily is considered a pro-Beijing newspaper.