At least nine activists were arrested on Thursday for their alleged involvement in a protest last year outside Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, according to two pro-democracy political groups.
Demosisto and the League of Social Democrats (LSD) claimed that police visited the homes of some of their members early in the morning and placed them under arrest.
The arrested include LSD chairman Avery Ng and Demosisto members Derek Lam and Ivan Lam, the groups said in social media posts.
The action came on charges of unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct following a protest in November last year against Beijing’s controversial interpretation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.
RTHK cited Ng as saying that he was arrested on suspicion of inciting others to cause disorder in public.
Demosisto’s Lam said he also faced the same charge and that he has been ordered to appear before the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on May 5.
He refuted the charges, saying the protest the group participated in on November 6 had been “peaceful”.
Denouncing the arrests, he accused the government of trying to deter Hongkongers from joining future protests.
The activists were later released on bail.
LSD lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung said he suspects the arrests were aimed at reining in protesters ahead of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule.
“I think it’s a typical political persecution… in order to threaten the Hong Kong people who are willing to come out and voice demand of universal suffrage,” Leung was quoted as saying.
Demosisto lawmaker Nathan Law said the arrests mark another instance of political persecution and that such actions will only make it more difficult to heal the rifts in society.
The police action Thursday came a day after two former legislators-elect of the pro-independence group Youngspiration were arrested for illegal assembly inside the Legislative Council.
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