Hong Kong: Agnes Chow denied bail. New wave of arrests

The Democracy activist was sentenced to 10 months in prison for her role in last year's anti-government demonstrations. Eight Democrats were arrested yesterday for participating in a march on July 1st. They are added to the eight arrested for protests at the Chinese university.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Democracy activist Agnes Chow will remain in prison. The High Court today rejected her request for release on bail pending the appeal process. On December 2, the 24-year-old was sentenced to 10 months in prison for promoting an anti-government demonstration and besieging the police headquarters in Wan Chai on June 21 last year.

Judges jailed two other young pro-democracy leaders on the same charges: Joshua Wong and Ivan Lam. The three had long ago decided to plead guilty to raise public awareness of the repression taking place in Hong Kong against the democracy movement. Wong, Chow and Lam are among the founders of Demosisto, the independence party dissolved after the approval last June of the draconian law on security wanted by Beijing.

The High Court's decision comes one day after a new series of arrests by authorities. The police yesterday arrested eight leading democracy figures - including three former parliamentarians - for organizing and participating in an unauthorized public demonstration on 1 July, the first major march after the approval of the security measure.

The National Security Department had already arrested eight people on 7 December. They are accused of participating in an anti-government demonstration on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (Cuhk) last month. During the protest, demonstrators displayed independence flags and banners, shouting slogans in favour of the independence of the former British colony.

The national security law sanctions those who invoke Hong Kong's independence. The provision prohibits and punishes acts and activities of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces that endanger national security. But its interpretation seems to be so broad that it affects freedom of opinion, of the press and of assembly.