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Mass Arrest of Opposition Figures Highlights Repressive Capability

 Hong Kong: Mass Arrest of Opposition Figures Highlights Repressive Capability of National Security Law

Mass Arrest of Opposition Figures Highlights Repressive Capability

In response to the arrest on Wednesday morning of around 50 Hong Kong opposition figures for violating the city's national security law, Amnesty International Asia and Oceania Regional Director Yamini Mishra said:

“This terrible crackdown on the Hong Kong political opposition - affecting candidates, activists and operatives alike - is the clearest demonstration ever seen of how the national security law has been instrumentalized to punish anyone who dares question. the system.

“This relentless legislation gives the authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong a free hand to crush all dissent and leaves all critics of the government at risk of imprisonment. Today's arrests also illustrate how the broad scope of the law allows it to be applied in circumstances that pose no real threat to national security.

“Accusing dozens of pro-democracy activists and legislators of‘ subversion ’is a flagrant attack on their right to freedom of expression and association. People have a legitimate right to participate in public affairs. The political opposition should not be silenced simply because the authorities do not like it.

“The Hong Kong government must end this dangerous practice of treating its critics as criminals and threats to national security. If there is no evidence that the people detained today have committed an internationally recognized crime, they should be released immediately. ”

Additional information

Around 50 pro-democracy figures were arrested in Hong Kong on Wednesday morning for alleged breaches of the city's security law.

According to information from the media and social media posts, they were charged with “subversion” for organizing and participating in a self-proclaimed primary for the Legislative Council elections last year, which were subsequently postponed due to COVID-19.

The detainees include several former legislators and district councilors, primary organizer Benny Tai and US attorney John Clancey, who was treasurer for one of the organizers. Also arrested was Robert Chung, executive director of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (PORI), which had provided technology to conduct the vote.

Police also broke into the home of jailed activist Joshua Wong, according to his Twitter account, and went to the offices of the Apple Daily and Stand newspapers in search of contact information for the primary candidates.

The Democratic side carried out a vote in July last year to reduce the final list of Democratic candidates for official legislative elections. His goal was to get a majority in the Legislative Council with more than 35 seats.

At the time, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said the vote was illegal and warned it could violate national security law, enacted a few weeks earlier.

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