Jan. 5 (UPI) — Authorities in Hong Kong have arrested dozens of pro-democracy politicians in an early morning sweep Wednesday on accusations of subverting a draconian nationwide safety legislation Beijing imposed on the previous British colony in the summertime, based on posts on social media.
Lo Kin-hei, chairman of the Hong Kong Democratic Celebration, mentioned upwards of 50 individuals who participated in final yr’s pro-democracy main in Hong Kong have been arrested.
“I misplaced rely already,” he mentioned through Twitter. “Very probably over 40 and even 50.”
The Democratic Celebration confirmed former lawmakers James To, Andrew Wan, Lam Cheuk Ting, Wu Chi Wai, Tiffany Yuen and Gary Fan have been amongst these arrested.
Kwok Ka Ki, one in all 4 lawmakers dismissed in November, introduced his arrest on Twitter.
“Being arrested for sedition for collaborating in democracy,” he mentioned.
Nearly all 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 might elect at the very least 35 folks to safe a majority within the Legislative Council.
Hong Kong’s Chief Govt Carrie Lam postponed the election a yr because of the COVID-19 pandemic after 12 pan-democratic politicians, together with distinguished activist Joshua Wong, have been disqualified from working.
The Hong Kong authorities mentioned the disqualification was as a result of the politicians would not uphold the Primary Regulation, which Beijing had on the final day of June amended with a brand new nationwide safety legislation that criminalizes acts of secession, sedition, subversion, terrorism and dealing with international businesses to undermine the nationwide safety of China.
Beijing’s Hong Kong Liaison Workplace mentioned the pro-democracy primaries have been “unlawful.”
“With the help of exterior forces, opposition teams and leaders intentionally deliberate to carry this so-called main election, which is a critical provocation to the present electoral system, a critical violation of the equity and justice of the Legislative Council election and a critical injury to the reliable rights and curiosity of different candidates,” the liaison workplace mentioned in a press release.
A publish Wednesday on the official Twitter account for Wong, who’s serving greater than a yr in jail for his position protests in 2019, mentioned police raided his home Wednesday morning “for allegedly violating the nationals safety legislation … as he took half within the main election final yr.”
Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, mentioned the arrests take away “the remaining veneer of democracy within the metropolis.”
“Beijing as soon as once more has did not be taught from its errors in Hong Kong: that repression generates resistance, and that thousands and thousands of Hong Kong folks will persist of their wrestle for his or her proper to vote and run for workplace in a democratically elected authorities,” she mentioned in a press release.
Hong Kong Watch mentioned, “Beijing is as soon as once more undermining Hong Kong’s democracy & breaching its obligations underneath 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 mentioned in a press release.
The arrests are anticipated to be condemned by Western nations, together with america, which has imposed punitive measures towards 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 folks of Hong Kong and towards Beijing’s crackdown on democracy,” he mentioned.
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a member of the Senate choose committee, condemned the arrests in a press release, saying, “these despicable raids expose the Chinese language Communist Celebration for the cowardly dictators they’re.”