Hong Kong Arrests Two Lawmakers in Further Blow to Opposition
29 August, 2020, 19:55
Two prominent Hong Kong opposition lawmakers have been arrested along with more than a dozen others in a police operation focused on last year's anti-government protests, part of a widening crackdown against the city's democracy camp.
Democracy supporters including Lam and Hui have accused police of deliberately arriving late to the scene, allowing the attackers to leave, and botching the subsequent investigation - allegations the force has denied. Lawmaker James To said the arrests amounted to political persecution.
A tweet from Mr Lam's team said he was accused of rioting at Yuen Long train station on 21 July past year.
Both are minority anti-Beijing lawmakers in the city's partially elected legislature and vocal critics of both Beijing and the Hong Kong government. The tweets said he has also been accused of rioting on July 21, 2019.
The high-profile Yuen Long incident saw men in white shirts beat up a crowd at a subway station, including people wearing the black shirts favored by protesters.
The Democratic Party said the two had been carrying out their duty as legislators on the day by liaising between protesters and police.
Police arrested Legislative Councillors Lam Cheuk-ting and Ted Hui in relation to a protest in the suburb of Tuen Mun on 6 July a year ago.
A post on Hui's Facebook page said he was arrested on charges of perverting the course of justice, accessing a computer with criminal and dishonest intent, and criminal damage in relation to a protest in July a year ago.
He was later led from his house in handcuffs.
Ted Hui was also arrested for his role in the July 6 protest, according to his party. Some of those detained have ties to triads, the police said.
Beginning in early June previous year, Hong Kong was hit by seven straight months of huge and often violent pro-democracy protests in which more than 9,000 people were arrested.
In late June, Beijing imposed a sweeping new security law on the city, tightening Communist Party control over the semi-autonomous city and ending the legal firewall between the two territories. The pro-democracy movement was made illegal and those calling for greater autonomy or independence face lengthy prison sentences.
The United States has placed sanctions on some Chinese and Hong Kong officials and declared the business hub no longer sufficiently autonomous from the authoritarian mainland.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, Hong Kong has prohibited gatherings of more than two people, making it hard to hold protests.
City leader Carrie Lam began the year vowing to heal divisions.
But this latest arrest of a lawmaker who was injured and had been seeking justice has raised questions about police actions. "The Hong Kong authorities should bring to justice the real perpetrators of violence at Yuen Long MTR, rather than using the incident as a pretext to arrest political opponents".
Activists and pro-democracy politicians have reacted with outrage to the arrests and the new police account of last year's attack.
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