Twenty-six people belonging to three different political parties were arrested Wednesday night after they broke police cordons in Wanchai to put up protest messages ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the city.
Activists from the League of Social Democrats, People Power and Demosisto parties were taken into custody after they sought to display some messages on the Golden Bauhinia Statue, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The political activists were attempting to put up banners and placards urging Beijing to scrap an Aug. 31, 2014 decision in relation to the Hong Kong chief executive election system, as well as demand other things such as unconditional release of Chinese rights activist Liu Xiaobo, who has been diagnosed with liver cancer following a long jail sentence.
According to Apple Daily, the protesters took a public bus to enter the Golden Bauhinia Square along with some tourists at 5:30 pm.
Once they got there, some members, including legislative councilors Leung Kwok-hung and Nathan Law Koon-chung and Demosisto convenor Joshua Wong, climbed up to the Bauhinia sculpture and tried to chain themselves to the iconic structure.
The police rushed in to remove the protesters from the sculpture and clear the area. A fire truck was called in to assist in the removal of the demonstrators, and the operation was completed at 9:30pm.
The police confirmed that they arrested 20 men and six women, whose ages ranged from 19 to 61, on public nuisance charges.
It was the second time in a week that protesters had targeted the Golden Bauhinia Statue, calling for universal suffrage in Hong Kong and denouncing Beijing’s treatment of Chinese dissidents.
According to a police superintendent, the Golden Bauhinia Square was not locked down at the time of the incident.
The police were well prepared to handle potential disturbances, he said, amid a security clampdown in the city due to Xi Jinping’s visit.
Xi arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday for a three-day trip as the city prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of its return to Chinese rule on July 1.
The Chinese president is staying at the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel, which is close to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the handover anniversary celebrations will take place.
According to RTHK, the 26 Bauhinia Square protesters were still under police detention as of Thursday afternoon.
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