Professional-democratic celebration members shout slogans in response to the mass arrests throughout a press convention in Hong Kong Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.
Credit score: AP Picture/Vincent Yu
In an early morning crackdown that despatched shockwaves all through the town, some 1,000 cops in Hong Kong on January 6 arrested not less than 53 residents, together with pro-democracy activists, politicians, campaigners, and an American lawyer.
By means of a spate of unprecedented raids, authorities detained people who had participated in holding an unofficial major vote for the town’s legislative council election final July, which drew over 600,000 voters. Later that month, the election that might have adopted the unofficial vote was postponed reportedly as a result of coronavirus-related considerations by Chief Government Carrie Lam, and plenty of candidates who participated within the major have been barred from contesting.
The clampdown – which concerned the detainment of all of the pro-democracy candidates from the unofficial primaries, in addition to pollsters and organizers –greater than doubled the variety of folks arrested beneath Beijing’s new nationwide safety regulation, which broadly criminalizes secession, collusion with overseas forces, and different types of dissent. They stand accused of “subverting state energy” for holding the primaries, and are suspected of trying to achieve a majority within the legislature with the goal of paralyzing the federal government, Hong Kong’s Safety Minister John Lee stated at a press convention.
In response to the nationwide safety regulation, subversion prices are punishable by as much as life in jail for “a principal offender” and three to 10 years in jail for somebody “who actively participates within the offense.”
Forward of the unofficial vote final yr, Hong Kong’s constitutional affairs minister had warned that the primaries could violate the nationwide safety regulation, as a result of organizers’ requires elected legislators to veto the federal government’s annual finances. Police won’t goal those that voted within the primaries, Lee stated.
It was the most important nationwide safety round-up the town has witnessed within the months because the regulation was imposed final summer season – a interval marked by common crackdowns on the town’s pro-democracy motion. A whole bunch have been arrested; a bunch of protesters caught at sea when trying to flee to Taiwan have been sentenced to jail in mainland China; media tycoon and activist Jimmy Lai was jailed; younger icons Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, and Ivan Lam have been put behind bars; and 15 pro-democracy legislators resigned after 4 lawmakers have been disqualified, leaving the legislature with out an opposition.
These arrested on Wednesday embrace former pro-democracy lawmakers Helena Wong, James To, Wu Chi-wai, and Claudio Mo, in addition to younger activists Ventus Lau, Tiffany Yuen, Gwyneth Ho, and Owen Chow, amongst others. Benny Tai, a authorized scholar and high-profile determine of the 2014 Umbrella Motion protests who co-organized the unofficial polls, was additionally arrested. Tai beforehand wrote the op-ed “10 steps to laam chau,” which referred to a “scorched earth” doctrine of mutual destruction amongst protesters in final yr’s demonstrations and outlined a predicted timeline for crackdowns between 202o to 2022. The plan was cited by Lee as proof for the “vicious plan” to “sink Hong Kong into an abyss.”
But amongst these arrested are additionally people who’re largely unknown in mainstream politics, and focus primarily on social points. One such particular person is Lee Ching-yung, a candidate who ran with the goal of creating the town’s transport system extra pleasant for wheelchair customers, in reminiscence of his daughter who had a extreme incapacity and commuted utilizing a wheelchair day by day earlier than she handed away.
One other is Jeffrey Andrews, the town’s first registered ethnic minority social employee who has devoted his life to serving to refugees and ethnic minorities. Andrews is the additionally the primary ethnic minority to run for Legislative Council – a choice he made with the intention to work towards better illustration and advocate for ethnic minority rights.
On Wednesday afternoon, remaining representatives from numerous pro-democracy teams held a press convention condemning the arrests, with Civic Get together chairman Alan Leong saying he couldn’t see why those that promised to train their energy to veto budgets – as outlined within the Primary Regulation – can be thought of subversive.
“We all know that many in Hong Kong are very upset. However we attraction to the folks of Hong Kong to not despair,” Leong stated. “We should always insist on talking the reality and residing in fact. There will likely be mild ultimately of the darkish tunnel, and each darkish night time will see the daybreak. So, allow us to stand and combat.”