Wave of arrests under national security law of critics and politicians
In an unprecedented crackdown by opposition authorities in the city, more than 50 pro-democracy politicians and activists were arrested in early morning raids in Hong Kong. Activists were allegedly detained under the National Security Law, accused of “subverting state power” by holding primaries and claiming they planned to gain a majority of seats in the Hong Kong elections. Subversion carries a maximum sentence of life in prison for “principal offenders” under the National Security Law (NSL). “Wednesday morning’s sweeping arrests came without warning and shocked observers.”
The police crackdown seemed to be related to the unofficial pan-democratic primaries held last year ahead of the Hong Kong election, political parties linked to those arrested said.
35 seats had been sought by the campaigners – a plurality in the Legislative Council. “Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam subsequently postponed the election for a year, reportedly due to the pandemic. China to prosecute lawyers who helped Hong Kong activistsRead more “Arrested for sedition for engaging in Democracy 35+,” tweeted Dr. Kwok Ka Ki, one of the four MPs disqualified in November who was arrested on Wednesday morning. Former deputies Helena Wong, Lam Cheuk-ting, Chu Hoi-dick, Claudia Mo and Leung Kwok-Hung, as well as election co-organizers – rights scholar Benny Tai and pollster Robert Chung, whose office had been raided just days earlier – were among those detained, identified by political parties or local media. Maya Wang, senior Chinese researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the mass arrests eliminated “the last vestiges” On the day of the U.S. runoff election in Georgia, two weeks before Joe Biden took office and shortly after the EU agreed to a trade agreement with China, the timing of the arrests was widely seen as intentional. The raids were named “The timing of the arrests was widely seen as deliberate, coming on the day of the U.S. runoff election in Georgia, two weeks before Joe Biden took office and shortly after the EU agreed to a trade deal with China. Republican U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the raids ” by Republican U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Chairman Xi sees a divided and distracted America, and he is not wasting a moment. These despicable raids expose the Chinese Communist Party as the cowardly dictators they are. “The Hong Kong government stated at the time of the primaries that it had received reports that the election may have been “infiltrated and rigged” and that the NSL may have been abused by candidates and campaigners by promising the NSL. Although the primaries are not an official part of the electoral process in Hong Kong, an estimated 600,000 people still cast votes for Democratic candidates, which was seen as a litmus test of the reaction of the public to the crackdown by the government and an act of protest. In Hong Kong, however, Beijing’s top representatives called the primaries “illegal” and accused the organizers of colluding with foreign forces, a “serious provocation” to the electoral structure of Hong Kong. A spokesman for the Liaison Office, whose leader is also responsible for enforcing national security legislation, said, “The goal of organizer Benny Tai and the opposition camp is to seize government power in Hong Kong and … The goal of organizer Benny Tai and the opposition camp is to seize power in Hong Kong and … carry out a Hong Kong version of the ‘color revolution,'” After the polls closed, Tai predicted that pro-democracy candidates could win up to 45 seats, but he cautioned of the backlash from those in power: “Everyone has to mind.”