Police arrest nine more democracy activists in Hong Kong

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The protest outside China’s liaison office in Hong Kong saw scuffles as demonstrators charged barriers and police used pepper spray to drive them back AFP/Anthony Wallace

Concerns are growing that the semi-autonomous city’s freedoms are under threat from Beijing, fuelling calls from some groups for greater autonomy or even a complete split from China.

Pro-independence activists Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung were arrested and charged Wednesday over causing chaos in the legislature after being barred from taking up their seats as lawmakers last year.

And last month nine pro-democracy activists – including student protesters and lawmakers – were charged for their roles in mass 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement rallies.

The spate of arrests come ahead of an expected visit by China’s President Xi Jinping to mark the 20th anniversary of the handover of the city by Britain back to China in 1997 on Jul 1.

“I believe the police have set out to arrest all street activists so they won’t dare to protest when Xi Jinping visits,” pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong told AFP.

Nine protesters were arrested Thursday over their participation in a rally in November against China’s decision to intervene in the row over whether to disqualify Yau and Baggio.

That protest outside China’s liaison office in Hong Kong saw scuffles as demonstrators charged barriers and police used pepper spray to drive them back.

The rally was triggered after Beijing announced it would make a special interpretation of Hong Kong’s constitution to determine whether Yau and Baggio should be prevented from taking up their seats after staging an anti-China protest during their oath-taking.

Beijing’s final ruling, two days after the rally, effectively ensured the pair were barred.

‘FIGHT CONTINUES’

Two of those arrested Thursday belong to new pro-democracy party Demosisto, co-founded by student leader Wong.

Others included members of the long-standing pro-democracy party League of Social Democrats (LSD), as well as student or former student protesters.

The charges include illegal assembly, obstructing a police officer and assaulting a police officer, activists said.

Police were unable to immediately confirm the arrests and charges.

All nine protesters emerged from Hong Kong’s Western police station Thursday afternoon and said they had been charged and released on bail.

LSD chairman Avery Ng, who was charged with inciting others to cause disorder in public, said campaigners would “continue to voice our discontent and our anger towards the Communist Party and the Hong Kong government”.

Rights group Amnesty International criticised the arrests saying they were another example of “vague charges” against prominent activists.

The move smacked of an “orchestrated and retaliatory campaign” against pro-democracy advocates, said Mabel Au, director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.

Human Rights Watch warned authorities’ “heavy-handed” approach could backfire, pointing to 2014’s mass protests, prompted by restrictions imposed by Beijing on fully free leadership elections.

In an annual report on the city released Thursday, the European Union called for democratic political reform in Hong Kong, saying that it had become “more polarised” in 2016.

The reform process stalled after a Beijing-backed proposal to allow free leadership elections but restrict candidates sparked the 2014 rallies.

“The EU encourages Hong Kong and China’s central government to resume electoral reform … to reach agreement on an election system that is democratic, fair, open and transparent,” the report said.

Source: AFP/ec

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This entry was posted in Civil rights - Quyền dân sự, Democracy, Demonstration - Biểu tình, Freedom of the press - Tự do báo chí, Human rights - Nhân quyền, Right to demonstrate - Quyền biểu tình and tagged , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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