Hong Kong. On Sunday, 47 pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong were charged with conspiracy to commit subversion, the biggest single crackdown on the pro-democracy movement under a Beijing-imposed “internal security rule.”
Sam Cheung, a young activist who ran in an unofficial primary election last summer, was arrested after turning up at a local police station wearing a black mask and accompanied by his wife.
Before entering the station, he told reporters, “Hong Kongers are having a very rough time these days.” “I hope that no one gives up on Hong Kong… and that we continue to fight.”
Cheung, along with more than 50 other lawmakers and activists, was detained in a dawn raid on Jan. 6 in the largest so-called national security operation since the law’s passage last June.
They were accused of coordinating and taking part in an illegal primary election in July to choose the best candidates for a legislative council election.
In a statement, the Hong Kong police said they had lodged a single count complaint against 47 people. They will appear in court first thing tomorrow morning, according to the release.
At the time, pro-democracy politicians were arrested, interrogated, and others had their phones and computers seized before being released pending further investigations.
In an earlier social media post, Benny Tai wrote, “My chances of bail won’t be too high.” Chinese authorities have also charged and accused him of being a central tactician in the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony.
The arrests were condemned by the pro-democracy camp as political revenge for the informal, peaceful election, which attracted 600,000 votes in a city of 7.5 million people.
In a Facebook post, the rights activist organisation “Power for Democracy,” which co-organized the primary elections, declared its disbandment.
So far, 99 people have been detained for alleged security law breaches, according to Hong Kong police.
Despite lengthy legal appeals, some of them, including media mogul and influential Beijing critic Jimmy Lai, have been denied bail.
Acts of subversion, secession, collaboration with foreign powers, and terrorism against China’s one-party state are punishable by life imprisonment under the Chinese Communist Party’s sweeping national security regulations, which critics see as a challenge to Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy.