In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Chinese police arrested dozens of pro-democracy politicians in Hong Kong who orchestrated the city’s opposition movement.
According to the Wall Street Journal, at least some of those arrested have been accused of subversion under China’s draconian national security law passed last year as Beijing imposes its power over the once-free, semi-autonomous region.
#BREAKING: Numbers of candidates like Ventus Lau, Alvin Yeung, Owen Chow, Fergus Leung, and Gweneth Ho are arrested under the National Security Law for running for the 2020 pro-democratic primaries in July. #HongKong
— Frances Hui #SAVE12HKYOUTHS (@frances_hui) January 5, 2021
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) January 5, 2021
“The operation is the biggest since the sweeping national security law was imposed six months ago, and activists said the arrests were the first related to alleged subversion which was made a serious crime under the legislation,” the paper reported. “The range and profile of the lawmakers arrested, comprising most of Hong Kong’s opposition, marks dramatic escalation in efforts by authorities to crush opposition in the city, which was racked by monthslong antigovernment street protests in 2019.”
Longhair Leung Kwok Hung was also arrested. pic.twitter.com/qMbC6MK0tc
— LO Kin-hei 羅健熙 (@lokinhei) January 5, 2021
Opposition leaders engaged in self-organized primaries on July 11 and 12 just days after the Chinese Communist Party implemented its new national security law. The Wall Street Journal reported that organizers said more than 600,000 members of the public cast votes in the elections, which sought to capture a majority in the legislature with power to protest Beijing’s grip on the territory.
Pro-mainland authorities told opposition politicians their candidacies were invalid, and then postponed new elections for another year, blaming the ongoing coronavirus pandemic originating in the Chinese Hubei province. In November, according to the Journal, the pro-democracy group in the legislature resigned in solidarity with several peers who were expelled.
Wednesday’s arrests come a week after a group of a dozen pro-democracy activists were sentenced to prison in China after being caught by Beijing authorities fleeing to Taiwan. News also surfaced from Reuters last week that the Chinese also arrested nuns last year.