Police in Hong Kong say they arrested three politicians on Wednesday over incidents earlier in the year in which foul-smelling liquid was thrown in the city’s legislature, Reuters reports.
The arrests come after Hong Kong’s opposition resigned last week in protest against the dismissal of four colleagues in what they see as another push by Beijing to clamp down on democracy in the city.
In May, Ted Hui dropped a rotten plant in the middle of a meeting. Then in June, Eddie Chu and Ray Chan splashed rancid liquid as guards grappled with them during a debate over a controversial bill to criminalise disrespect of China’s national anthem.
Opposition members have tried to resist what many people in the former British colony see as Beijing’s whittling away of freedoms, despite its promise of a high degree of autonomy under a “one country, two systems” formula, promised when it returned to China in 1997.
China denies curbing rights and freedoms in the global financial hub, but authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing moved swiftly to quash dissent after protests erupted last year and engulfed the city.
Earlier this month, seven pro-democracy politicians – including Chu and Chan – were arrested over another chaotic legislative meeting in May.
Al Jazeera commented, “The arrests are part of a wider clampdown by Beijing and Hong Kong to gag any dissent after last year’s protests. China is trying to enforce loyalty to the motherland.”
The BBC says that as China tightens its grip on Hong Kong, international unease is growing. The Five Eyes group, consisting of UK, US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, has accused China of a concerted campaign to silence critical voices in Hong Kong in breach of its international obligations.