Jan. 5 (UPI) — Authorities in Hong Kong have arrested dozens of pro-democracy politicians and opposition leaders in an early morning sweep Wednesday on accusations of subverting a draconian nationwide safety regulation Beijing imposed on the previous British colony in the summertime, in accordance with posts on social media.

Lo Kin-hei, chairman of the Hong Kong Democratic Get together, stated upwards of 50 individuals who participated in final 12 months’s pro-democracy main in Hong Kong have been arrested.

“I misplaced depend already,” he stated through Twitter. “Very possible over 40 and even 50.”

The Democratic Get together confirmed former lawmakers James To, Andrew Wan, Lam Cheuk Ting, Wu Chi Wai, Tiffany Yuen and Gary Fan had been amongst these arrested.

Kwok Ka Ki, considered one of 4 lawmakers dismissed in November, introduced his arrest on Twitter.

“Being arrested for sedition for participating in democracy,” he stated.

The vast majority of these arrested participated in primaries for September’s Legislative Council election that democratic politicians held in an effort to whittle candidates down to make sure they may elect at the very least 35 individuals to safe a majority within the Legislative Council.

Hong Kong’s Chief Govt Carrie Lam postponed the election a 12 months as a result of COVID-19 pandemic after 12 pan-democratic politicians, together with outstanding activist Joshua Wong, had been disqualified from working.

The Hong Kong authorities stated the disqualification was as a result of the politicians would not uphold the Fundamental Regulation, which Beijing had on the final day of June amended with a brand new nationwide safety regulation that criminalizes acts of secession, sedition, subversion, terrorism and dealing with overseas businesses to undermine the nationwide safety of China.

Beijing’s Hong Kong Liaison Workplace stated the pro-democracy primaries had been “unlawful.”

“With the help of exterior forces, opposition teams and leaders intentionally deliberate to carry this so-called main election, which is a severe provocation to the present electoral system, a severe violation of the equity and justice of the Legislative Council election and a severe harm to the professional rights and curiosity of different candidates,” the liaison workplace stated in an announcement.

A submit Wednesday on the official Twitter account for Wong, who’s serving greater than a 12 months in jail for his position protests in 2019, stated police raided his home Wednesday morning “for allegedly violating the nationals safety regulation … as he took half within the main election final 12 months.”

Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, stated the arrests take away “the remaining veneer of democracy within the metropolis.”

“Beijing as soon as once more has didn’t be taught from its errors in Hong Kong: that repression generates resistance, and that thousands and thousands of Hong Kong individuals will persist of their wrestle for his or her proper to vote and run for workplace in a democratically elected authorities,” she stated in an announcement.

Hong Kong Watch stated, “Beijing is as soon as once more undermining Hong Kong’s democracy & breaching its obligations below the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” which returned Hong Kong to Chinese language rule in 1997.

“The Worldwide group should reply with Magnitsky sanctions and different punitive measures demonstrating that an assault on democracy has penalties,” it stated in an announcement.

The arrests are anticipated to be condemned by Western nations, together with the USA, which has imposed punitive measures in opposition to the Hong Kong and Chinese language governments over their repression of pro-democracy protests within the former British colony.

Antony Blinken, whom President-elect Joe Biden picked to be his secretary of state, described Wednesday’s arrests in a tweet as “an assault on these bravely advocating for common rights.”

“The Biden-Harris administration will stand with the individuals of Hong Kong and in opposition to Beijing’s crackdown on democracy,” he stated.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a member of the Senate choose committee, condemned the arrests in an announcement, saying, “these despicable raids expose the Chinese language Communist Get together for the cowardly dictators they’re.”