ong Kong’s authorities certainly appear to be stealing pages straight of out of Beijing’s playbook, arresting a number of well-known activists just ahead of a sensitive anniversary.
On Friday morning, Joshua Wong, the face of Hong Kong’s 2014 Umbrella Movement, was “forcefully pushed into a private minivan” before being taken to a police station, said Demosisto, the political party which Wong helped to found.
BREAKING: Our secretary-general @joshuawongcf was just arrested this morning at roughly 7:30, when he was walking to the South Horizons MTR station. He was forcefully pushed into a private minivan on the street in broad daylight. Our lawyers following the case now.
— Demosistō 香港眾志 (@demosisto) August 30, 2019
Agnes Chow, Wong’s fellow Demosisto founder, was arrested a few hours later. Both have been charged with “inciting others to participate in an unlawful assembly” and “knowingly participating in an unlawful assembly.” Wong has also been hit with the charge of “organizing an unlawful assembly.”
The charges evidently stem from a June 21 protest where thousands of Hongkongers surrounded police headquarters. Only days after being released from prison, Wong was one of the leaders of this demonstration.
By Friday afternoon, Wong and Chow were both released on bail, giving a press conference where they declared that the people of Hong Kong would not back down from these “white terror” tactics.
"We Hong Kong people won't give up and won't be scared by these white terror and injustice," Hong Kong pro-democracy activist @chowtingagnes says after her arrest on Friday #Hongkongprotest pic.twitter.com/0eXs7229Ye
— Bloomberg TicToc (@tictoc) August 30, 2019
The pair are just two of the more than 20 that police said they have arrested since Thursday, including a number of other recognizable names:
- Andy Chan, convenor of the outlawed pro-independence Hong Kong National Party
- Rick Hui, pro-democracy district councilor from Sha Tin
- Althea Suen, former University of Hong Kong student union president
- Cheng Chung-tai, New Territories West legislative councilor
This all comes after police denied permission for a mass rally to be staged on Saturday, which marks the fifth anniversary of Beijing’s decision to reject a call for universal suffrage in Hong Kong, a move that sparked the 79-day Umbrella Movement.
Some activists have called on Hongkongers to take to the street anyway, suggesting that they perhaps use the day to “go shopping.” However, police have warned that, even if there is no formal rally, those suspected of protesting may be arrested for “unlawful assembly.”
So @hkpoliceforce said they have learned about some protesters’ plans to launch demonstrations under different purposes, and warned that all these behaviors can constitute “illegal assembly,” and the police would make arrests when necessary. https://t.co/VfbClkz4c1
— William Yang (@WilliamYang120) August 30, 2019
Meanwhile, police also said that the timing of these latest arrests was nothing more than a coincidence, claiming that they have no other implications than coming at the conclusion of an investigation.