Hong Kong Police Arrest Pro-Democracy Lawmakers for Participating in Protest Last Year

Rights groups say the arrests are part of a larger crackdown against pro-democracy activists.
August 26, 2020, 12:38pm
Lam Cheuk-ting
In this file photo taken on October 16, 2019, pro-democracy lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting stands up and protests in the Legislative Council. Photo: AFP / ANTHONY WALLACE

Hong Kong police arrested two opposition lawmakers and 14 others on Wednesday, August 26, over their involvement in protests at the height of the 2019 anti-extradition protests.

Masked assailants stormed the Yuen Long metro station in July 2019 following nearby protests against a controversial bill that would have allowed for the extradition of criminals from Hong Kong to mainland trial to face trial. During the violence, Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting was injured along with dozens of other protesters.

On Wednesday, Lam was arrested and was taken to Sha Tin police station, according to his Facebook page. Ted Hui, another lawmaker from the Democratic Party, was also arrested.

According to the BBC, Lam is accused of rioting in relation to the 2019 incident, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison

According to a video of Lam’s arrest provided by the Democratic Party to the South China Morning Post, police told the lawmaker he was being arrested for unlawful assembly inside the train station, as well as for “allegedly deleting digital files from a man’s phone outside Tuen Mun Police Station on July 6 without his consent.”

“Hong Kong has become such a ridiculous place,” Lam said, according to a video provided to SCMP of his arrest. “Rogue cops have become the authorities’ tools to suppress dissidents, and now they even blur the lines of right and wrong, and maliciously accuse the victim as a defendant.” 

Lam and several others injured in the violent attack previously pressed charges against the police, claiming that authorities did nothing to prevent the attack. 

Democratic Party chair Wu Chi-wai blasted authorities for abusing their power to intimidate pro-democracy activists.

“The government is using the legal system and police agency as tools to suppress dissident voices and opinions,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “The authorities are not credible and they showed no intention to mend the social cleavage. They abuse their powers to create a chilling effect.” 

A total of 43 people, including those with links to organized criminal gangs have been arrested in connection with the 2019 train station attack, according to SCMP.

Rights groups say the arrests are the latest crackdown on dissent in the wake of the new national security law imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing. The new law bans all forms of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign country and threatens a maximum penalty of life in prison. 

Amnesty International Hong Kong slammed the city authorities for using the new law to crack down on pro-democracy activism.

“A fresh round of mass arrest of pro-democracy activists today is the latest example of how the Hong Kong government is weaponizing the law to persecute dissidents,” the rights group said in a tweet.