Hong Kong widens crackdown, arrests 9 more activists

Legislator Claudia Mo expressed shock over the arrest of Leung and Yau, noting that both were legislators-elect at the time of the incident, and as such, the charges against them were absurd.

"Universal suffrage would give the government greater public support and legitimacy in pursuing Hong Kong's economic objectives and tackling social challenges such as the socio-economic and generational divides in Hong Kong society", read the 19th annual report to the European Parliament on Hong Kong.

Nine democracy protesters were arrested in Hong Kong Thursday over an anti-Beijing rally in the latest swoop by police as activists say they are being persecuted. China agreed to "one country, two systems" principle to ensure some freedom to Hong Kong that included a separate legal system.

Pro-independence lawmakers Sixtus Leung, left, and Yau Wai-ching, second frm left, walk out of a police station after being released on bail in Hong Kong, Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

Police detained up to nine activists for their apparent involvement in an anti-China protest a year ago, according to social media posts from two political parties, Demosisto and League of Social Democrats, whose members were among those arrested.

On Wednesday, police arrested two pro-independence lawmakers who were disqualified in a dispute over their oaths.

On March 27, a day after Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was selected to be the next Chief Executive, the police charged nine key participants of the 2014 Umbrella Movement with conspiracy to commit public nuisance.

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 July 1.

Two of those arrested Thursday belong to new pro-democracy party Demosisto, founded by student leaders Wong and Nathan Law, who is now a legislator.

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.

Police did not respond to a request for comment.

Hong Kong police have arrested at least nine democracy activists in connection with anti-government protest previous year, the latest in a series of politically motivated prosecutions that critics say are created to eliminate opposition.

The other activists arrested on Thursday included the chairman and two members of the League of Social Democrats, two members of the Student Fight for Democracy group and the former chair of the Lingnan University student union.

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.

  • Leroy Wright