China has cracked down on dozens of pro-democracy politicians in Hong Kong who opposed the Chinese Communist Party in elections last year. Hong Kong police say that they arrested 53 Hong Kong democrats and activists on Wednesday for violations of the state’s national security law.
The Hong Kong opposition figures were arrested over their alleged organization and participation in the primaries for the postponed 2020 Legislative Council election, according to local media reports.
According to police sources that spoke to Now TV, the arrests for alleged subversion came after the candidates made a pledge to veto government budgets. Former lawmakers who were picked up in the sting include Alvin Yeung, Andrew Wan, Au Nok-hin, Claudia Mo, Eddie Chu, Gary Fan, Helena Wong, James To, Jeremy Tam, Kwok Ka-ki, Lam Cheuk Ting, Raymond Chan, Roy Kwong, and Wu Chi-wai.
According to Hong Kong Free Press, the organizer of the primaries, Benny Tai, was arrested alongside numerous district councillors including Andrew Chiu, Andy Chui, Ben Chung, Clarisse Yeung, Fergus Leung, Kalvin Ho, Kinda Li, Lawrence Lau, Lee Yue-shun, Lester Shum, Michael Pang, Ng Kin-wai, Ricky Or, Roy Tam, Sam Cheung, Shun Lee, Sze Tak-loy, Tat Cheng, Tiffany Yuen and Henry Wong Pak-yu.
The paper reports that Robert Chung, executive director of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute, was visited by police but not arrested. The organization provided technology that enabled the lawmakers holding the poll. Police requested his assistance with the investigation.
Besides Hong Kong lawmakers, popular activists Owen Chow, Prince Wong, Nathan Lau, Ventus Lau and Ng Ching-Hang were also arrested by police, who also raided the home of Joshua Wong.
Hong Kong Free Press detailed dozens of other arrested figures, which included union leaders and lawmakers.
According to the publication, pro-democracy activists and lawmakers aimed to create a shortlist of candidates to run in the official legislative polls, which were ultimately delayed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who cited the COVID-19 lockdowns. The lawmakers hoped to secure positions in the legislature by winning more than 35 seats, however, Chinese Communist Party authorities dismissed the polls as having “no legal basis.”
During the primary election, over 610,000 citizens of Hong Kong cast their votes. The Beijing government declared the polls illegal, with its liaison office in Hong Kong stating: “The goal of organiser Benny Tai and the opposition camp is to seize the ruling power of Hong Kong and… carry out a Hong Kong version of ‘colour revolution’.”