Seven pro-democracy activists were arrested by police on Wednesday on charges of unlawful assembly and other illegal activities following anti-Beijing protest more than two months ago.
The seven, who were all men and whose ages ranged from 17 to 29, were booked after they took part in a demonstration in November against China’s controversial interpretation of the Basic law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.
Two of the arrested activists were from the Demosisto party, while two were from the League of Social Democrats, and two others from a student group called Student Fight for Democracy.
The seventh person who was held was Cheng Pui-lun, president of the Lingnan University Students’ Union, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The activists were accused of illegal gathering, misbehavior in a public place and possession of weapons after they participated in a protest on Nov. 6, one day before China’s parliament issued an interpretation of the Basic Law in a high-profile intervention in Hong Kong affairs.
The controversial interpretation came in the wake of a row involving two newly-elected Hong Kong lawmakers, who were accused of insulting China during an oath-taking ceremony in October.
Beijing’s decision eventually led to the two lawmakers-elect — Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching of the Localist group Youngspiration — being disqualified from the Legislative Council.
Ahead of the Chinese parliament’s ruling, there were protests by pro-democracy groups, which deemed Beijing’s move as unwarranted interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs.
The seven activists arrested Wednesday were part of one such demonstration.
Demosistō, which was established last year by former leaders of the pro-democracy Scholarism student group, said police officers went to the apartments of its two members at about 6 am Wednesday and arrested them without giving advance notice.
The police department, meanwhile, said in on its Facebook page that the arrests were made after joint investigations by the crime unit of Hong Kong Island Regional Headquarters and the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau.
The department did not rule out the possibility of more arrests.
It said it respects the public’s freedom of speech and freedom of assembly rights, but said that citizens must always abide by the law and ensure that social order is not disturbed in the event of any demonstration.
The seven activists participated in a rally organized by Civil Human Rights Front on the night of Nov. 6 to protest against Beijing’s planned move to bar pro-independence lawmakers-elect from taking up their duties
They were among thousands who protested in front of Beijing’s Liaison Office in Sai Wan.
Ivan Lam, one of the arrested from Demosisto, told Apple Daily that the police are yet to officially press charges against him.
Demosistō secretary general Joshua Wong suspects that Wednesday’s arrests, which he dubbed as political revenge, may be aimed creating social pressure on those who practiced civil disobedience, as a court prepares to give a ruling four weeks from now as to whether some other lawmakers-elect should be disqualified.
In other news, members of several pan-democratic parties gathered at the Police Headquarters in Admiralty Wednesday noon, calling on the police to be impartial and conduct a proper investigation into an attack against lawmaker Nathan Law at the Hong Kong airport on the night of Jan. 8.
They reminded authorities that they should act fairly, and that investigations shouldn’t target only anti-government demonstrators.
Law faced a violent protest from a group of pro-Beijing people as the young democracy campaigner returned to Hong Kong after participating in a political forum in Taiwan last weekend.
Apple Daily reports that the police have so far arrested three people — two men and one woman — for their suspected involvement in the Law incident.
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