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Hong Kong Arrests 53 Opposition Activists, Including U.S. Lawyer, Under New Security Law

Hong Kong Arrests 53 Opposition Activists, Including U.S. Lawyer, Under New Security Law

Hong Kong police arrested 53 former lawmakers and democracy activists under the security law imposed by Beijing six months ago.

Nearly all of those arrested ran in Hong Kong’s legislative council elections in 2020. Others include academics and U.S. lawyer John Clancey.

The Law

First some background. Since 1997, Beijing asked Hong Kong to pass a national security law. The city resisted, but a loophole in the constitution allows Beijing to make laws.

From CNN in July:

The law allows mainland Chinese officials to operate in Hong Kong for the first time, gives Beijing the power to override local laws and impacts broad swathes of Hong Kong society — as well as foreign nationals overseas.

The crimes are vaguely defined and wide-ranging; for instance, it’s now a crime to work with a foreign government or organization to incite “hatred” toward the central Chinese government.

Calling for Hong Kong independence now counts as a crime under “secession,” and vandalizing public property or government premises — like protesters did for months last year — are now considered terrorist activities.

People face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for all four crimes.

The law applies to anyone in Hong Kong, including “foreign nationals violating the law overseas — meaning they could be charged if they ever visit the city.”

If the case involves “state secrets or public order” the accused will have “a closed-door trial with no jury.”

The law is superior to local laws.

The Arrests

Hong Kong Secretary of Security John Lee claimed the accused “plotted a scheme intending to paralyze the Hong Kong government.”

They face allegations of wanting “to veto the government’s budget and oust the chief executive by obtaining 35 or more seats in the legislature.”

Lee cried that their actions would have sent “Hong Kong into an abyss.”

From The Wall Street Journal:

Those arrested on Wednesday included politicians from a number of pro-democracy parties, according to social media accounts. Among them were ex-legislators James To and Alvin Yeung and new-generation activists such as former journalist Gwyneth Ho and Lester Shum, who was a student leader during a 79-day street occupation in 2014 known as the Umbrella Movement.

John Clancey, an American and a lawyer at the Hong Kong law firm Ho Tse Wai & Partners, was taken away by police in the sweep, according to Albert Ho, the firm’s founder. Mr. Ho described Mr. Clancey, who is in his 70s, as a longtime human rights and public interest lawyer at the firm. He was also the treasurer of Power for Democracy, a pro-democratic group in the city.

Authorities also visited the home of Joshua Wong, who is currently serving a prison sentence for organizing a protest in 2019, according to social-media posts from friends writing on his behalf.

City leader Carrie Lam called off the election for Hong Kong’s legislature last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Activists viewed it as an excuse to stop the opposition.

These arrests damper any hope the pro-democracy movement had in future elections.


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2smartforlibs | January 6, 2021 at 4:08 pm

Coming to an American city near you.

2smart beat me to it.

As much as I hate to say it – better learn Mandarin.

With China Joe’s blessing. And Lebron’s, too.

If we don’t continue to assert our power, this will be coming to OUR HOMES.