Monday, March 8, 2021

Hong Kong police arrest 50 in Beijing national security law swoop

This appeared to be the largest roundup of dissidents and political figures to date under the Beijing-imposed legislation.

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Hong Kong democracy activists and opposition politicians were among dozens taken into custody on Wednesday morning on suspicion of violating the city’s controversial national security law.

Around 50 people were swept up by police in the operation, local media including broadcasters Now TV and TVB reported.

This appeared to be the largest roundup to date under the Beijing-imposed legislation.

Former lawmakers Alvin Yeung, James To, Andrew Wan and Lam Cheuk-ting were arrested by the police national security branch on allegations of subversion, according to social media postings.

The allegations were in relation to an informal primary held by opposition parties in July to choose candidates for a September legislative election that was subsequently postponed a full year by the government.

Activist Ventus Lau was also detained in relation to last year’s legislative election primaries organised by the pro-democracy side, a Lau associate said in a WhatsApp post.

Also arrested was former lawmaker Claudia Mo, a leading opposition figure and one of the city’s most outspoken critics of China’s policies in Hong Kong.

The Apple Daily newspaper reported that prominent activist and academic Benny Tai had been taken into custody along with Robert Chung, a pollster who helped develop the website and tally the votes for the primary.

A police spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Bloomberg.

The national security law which bars subversion, terrorism, secession and collusion with foreign forces, was imposed by Beijing on the former British colony in June, sparking international accusations led by the US that Beijing was reneging on promises to guarantee the city’s unique freedoms following its return to Chinese rule.

While Beijing officials have justified the legislation as necessary to quell local unrest and restore stability to the city after historic protests in 2019, the law has so far mainly been used against non-violent political opponents and dissidents.

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