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HK COPS NAB 50 PRO-DEMOCRACY LEADERS FOR 'VIOLATING' SECURITY LAW

Hong Kong police arrested about 50 pro-democracy figures Wednesday for allegedly violating the new national security law by participating in an unofficial primary election last year held to increase their chances of controlling the legislature, according to political parties and local media, Zen Soo reported for the Associated Press (AP).

Those arrested on suspicion of subversion included former lawmakers and pro-democracy activists, the South China Morning Post and online platform Now News reported.


The mass arrests were the largest move against Hong Kong’s democracy movement since the national security law was imposed by Beijing in the semi-autonomous territory in June last year. Police did not immediately comment on the arrests.


At least seven members of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party — the city’s largest opposition party — were arrested, including former party chairman Wu Chi-wai. Former lawmakers Helena Wong, Lam Cheuk-ting, and James To were also arrested, according to a post on the party’s Facebook page.


Benny Tai, a key figure in Hong Kong’s 2014 Occupy Central protests and a former law professor, was also arrested by the police, according to local media reports. Tai was one of the main organizers of the primaries.


The home of Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy activist who is serving a 13 1/2-month prison sentence for organizing and participating in an unauthorized protest last year, was also raided, according to a tweet posted from Wong’s account.


More than 600,000 Hong Kongers voted in the primaries, although pro-Beijing lawmakers and politicians criticized the event and warned that it could breach the security law, which was imposed on the city by Beijing to quash dissent following months of anti-government protests.


Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said in July last year that if the primary election was aimed at resisting every policy initiative by the Hong Kong government, that it may fall under subverting state power, an offence under the national security law.


Beijing also blasted the primaries as illegal, calling it a “serious provocation” of Hong Kong’s electoral system.



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