Hong Kong democracy activists and opposition politicians were among dozens of people taken into custody on suspicion of violating the city’s controversial national security law, in what appeared to be the largest roundup yet under the China-imposed legislation.
Former lawmakers Alvin Yeung, James To, Andrew Wan and Lam Cheuk-ting were arrested Wednesday morning by the police’s national security branch on allegations of subversion, according to Facebook 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.
Some 50 people were swept up by police in the operation, local media including broadcasters Now TV and TVB reported.
A police spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Activist Ventus Lau was also arrested in relation to last year’s legislative election primaries organized 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 arrested along with Robert Chung, a pollster who helped develop the website and tally the votes for the primary.
The national security law was imposed by Beijing on the former British colony in June, sparking international condemnation led by the U.S. that Beijing was reneging on promises to guarantee the city’s unique freedoms following its return to Chinese rule.
While Chinese officials have justified the legislation — which bars subversion, terrorism, secession and collusion — with foreign forces as a necessary tool 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.
World – TIME
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