More than 50 politicians and pro-democracy activists were arrested in early morning raids in Hong Kong, In an unprecedented campaign by the authorities against the opposition in the region.
The activists were reportedly detained under National Security Act Because of accusations that they “sabotaged the authority of the state” by holding primaries and saying that they intend to win a majority of seats in the Hong Kong elections.
The sweeping arrests on Wednesday morning came without warning and shocked observers. It is the largest mass arrest of individuals under the National Security Act (NSL), and it appears to be related to only one event: conducting democratic votes.
Political parties associated with the detainees said the police move appeared to be linked to the unofficial primary elections held by the Democrats last year, ahead of the Hong Kong elections. Activists were hoping for 35 seats – a majority in the legislature. The elections were eventually postponed by Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, for a year allegedly due to the pandemic.
“He was arrested on sedition charges for his participation in Democracy 35+,” tweeted Dr. Kwok Ka Ki, one of the four lawmakers dismissed in November, who was arrested Wednesday morning.
The Facebook page of imprisoned activist Joshua Wong said his home was also raided on Wednesday morning.
Among those arrested were former lawmakers Helena Wong, Lam Chuck Ting, Chu Hui Dyk and Leeung Kwok Hong, as well as the participating pollsters – Legal researcher Benny Tay And opinion polls Robert Chung, His office was raided Just days before.
Maya Wang, old age China The researcher at Human Rights Watch said that the mass detentions removed “the outer shell of democracy in the city.”
“Beijing has failed once again to learn from its mistakes in Hong Kong: that oppression breeds resistance, and that millions of Hong Kong residents will continue their struggle for their right to vote and run for office in a democratically elected government.”
The UK-based Hong Kong Watch accused Beijing of “once again undermining Hong Kong’s democracy and breaching its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration”.
“The international community must respond with Magnitsky sanctions and other punitive measures that demonstrate that the attack on democracy has consequences.”
At the time of the primaries, the Hong Kong government claimed that it had received complaints that the poll might “interfere and tamper” with the elections, by pledging to win a majority of seats in order to block government law candidates and activists. He may have violated the National Security Act.
The primaries, while not an official part of the election process in Hong Kong, drew an estimated 600,000 people to vote for democracy candidates in what was seen as a critical test of the public’s response to government crackdown and protest action.
But Beijing’s senior representatives are in Hong Kong He described the primaries as “illegal” and accused the organizers of colluding with foreign powers in a “dangerous provocation” to the electoral system in Hong Kong.
“The aim of the organizer, Benny Tai and the opposition camp, is to seize the ruling power in Hong Kong … and implement a version of the” color revolution “in Hong Kong, said a spokesperson for the Liaison Office, whose boss also works in Hong Kong. Responsible for implementing national security laws.
After the polls closed, Tai predicted that the pro-democracy candidates would win up to 45 seats, but was wary of the backlash from those in power.
“Everyone should be mentally prepared.”
The law enacted by Beijing in June last year criminalized secession, sabotage, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, including benign acts of protest. As of Wednesday, around 35 people have been arrested by law, and four of them have been charged, including media mogul Jimmy Lai. Prosecutors have struggled to ensure that none of them will be released on bail, indicating that anyone accused of the Wednesday raids will likely be arrested.
More is coming.