Hong Kong — Hong Kong police arrested 53 former lawmakers and democracy proponents on Wednesday, together with an American human rights lawyer, for allegedly violating a new national security law by taking part in unofficial election primaries for the territory’s legislature final yr. The mass arrests had been the largest motion towards Hong Kong’s democracy motion because the regulation was imposed by Beijing final June to quell dissent in the semi-autonomous territory.
“The operation today targets the active elements who are suspected to be involved in the crime of overthrowing, or interfering (and) seriously destroy the Hong Kong government’s legal execution of duties,” mentioned John Lee, Hong Kong’s safety minister, in a information convention.

Hong Kong Crackdown
American human rights lawyer John Clancey, heart, is arrested by police in Hong Kong, January 6, 2021. 


He mentioned these arrested had been suspected of attempting to paralyze the federal government by means of by gaining a majority of seats in the legislature and thus making a state of affairs in which the chief govt needed to resign and the federal government would cease functioning.
In a video posted to the Facebook web page of former lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, police are seen turning up at his home and telling him he is “suspected of violating the national security law, subverting state power.” Police informed these recording the video to cease or danger arrest.
The legislative election that might have adopted the unofficial primaries was postponed by a yr by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who cited public well being dangers in the course of the coronavirus pandemic. Mass resignations and disqualifications of pro-democracy lawmakers have left the legislature largely a pro-Beijing physique.
Lee mentioned the police wouldn’t goal those that had voted in the unofficial primaries, which had been held in July final yr and attracted greater than 600,000 voters regardless that pro-Beijing lawmakers and politicians had warned the occasion might breach the safety regulation.

Who was arrested?

All of the pro-democracy candidates in the unofficial primaries had been arrested, based on tallies of the arrests being reported by the South China Morning Post, on-line platform Now News and political teams.
At least seven members of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party — the town’s largest opposition occasion — had been arrested, together with former occasion chairman Wu Chi-wai. Former lawmakers Lam, Helena Wong and James To had been additionally arrested, based on a put up on the occasion’s Facebook web page. 

Benny Tai, a key determine in Hong Kong’s 2014 Occupy Central protests and a former regulation professor, was additionally arrested, reviews mentioned. Tai was one of many principal organizers of the primaries.

Hong Kong jails pro-democracy activists


The dwelling of Joshua Wong, a distinguished pro-democracy activist who’s serving a 13 1/2-month prison sentence for organizing and taking part in an unauthorized protest final yr, was additionally raided, based on a tweet posted from Wong’s account.

U.S. human rights lawyer detained

American human rights lawyer John Clancey was additionally arrested on Wednesday. Clancey was the treasurer of political group Power for Democracy, which was concerned in the unofficial primaries.
“We need to work for democracy and human rights in Hong Kong,” Clancey mentioned as he was being led away by police, in a video posted by native on-line information outlet Citizen News.
Police additionally went to the headquarters of Stand News, a distinguished pro-democracy on-line information website in Hong Kong, with a court docket order handy over paperwork to help in an investigation associated to the nationwide safety regulation, based on a livestreamed video by Stand News. No arrests had been made.

The sweeping arrests drew condemnation from Anthony Blinken, the U.S. Secretary of State nominee for the upcoming Biden administration, who mentioned on Twitter that it was an “assault on those bravely advocating for universal rights.”

“The Biden-Harris administration will stand with the people of Hong Kong and against Beijing’s crackdown on democracy,” Blinken wrote in his tweet.

Alleged plan for “mutual destruction”

Lee additionally pointed to a “10 steps to mutual destruction” plan among these arrested, which included taking management of the legislature, mobilizing protests to paralyze society and calling for worldwide sanctions.
That plan was beforehand outlined by former regulation professor Tai. He predicted that between 2020 and 2022, there can be 10 steps to mutual destruction which incorporates the pro-democracy bloc profitable a majority in the legislature, intensifying protests, the compelled resignation of Chief Executive Carrie Lam because of the price range invoice being rejected twice, and worldwide sanctions on the Chinese Communist Party.
The idea of mutual destruction — in which each Hong Kong and China would endure damages — is fashionable among some protesters and pro-democracy activists.
“The plot is to create such mutual destruction that if successful … will result in serious damage to society as a whole,” mentioned Lee. “That is why police action today is necessary.”
Senior superintendent Steve Li from the nationwide safety unit mentioned in a information convention that 53 individuals — 45 males and eight ladies aged between 23 to 64 — had been arrested in an operation that concerned 1,000 officers.
Six had been arrested for subverting state energy by organizing the unofficial primaries, whereas the remainder had been arrested for allegedly taking part in the occasion, Li mentioned. He mentioned extra arrests could possibly be made and investigations had been ongoing.

A mounting crackdown

In latest months, Hong Kong has already jailed a number of pro-democracy activists together with Wong and Agnes Chow for his or her involvement in anti-government protests, and others have been charged beneath the nationwide safety regulation together with media tycoon and outspoken pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai.
The safety regulation criminalizes acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with overseas powers to intervene in the town’s affairs. Serious offenders might face up a most punishment of life imprisonment.

6 GOP lawmakers sanctioned by China


Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam had mentioned on the time of the unofficial primaries final yr that if their intention was resisting each coverage initiative by the Hong Kong authorities, the election might fall beneath subverting state energy, an offence beneath the nationwide safety regulation.
Beijing had additionally referred to as the primaries unlawful and a “serious provocation” of Hong Kong’s electoral system.
Following the handover of Hong Kong to China by the British in 1997, the semi-autonomous Chinese metropolis has operated on a “one country, two systems” framework that affords it freedoms not discovered on the mainland. In latest years, Beijing has asserted extra management over the town, drawing criticism that it was breaking its promise of Hong Kong sustaining separate civil rights and political programs for 50 years from the handover.
Human Rights Watch mentioned the arrests counsel Beijing has didn’t be taught that repression generates resistance. HRW senior China researcher Maya Wang mentioned in an announcement that “millions of Hong Kong people will persist in their struggle for their right to vote and run for office in a democratically elected government.”
In additional remarks to The Associated Press, Wang mentioned it wasn’t clear what provisions of the regulation had been being cited to justify the arrests, however that native authorities appear much less involved with authorized substance.
“The very nature of the national security law is as a draconian blanket law allowing the government to arrest and potentially imprison people for long terms for exercising their constitutionally protected rights,” Wang mentioned.
“The veneer of rule of law is also applied in mainland China stripped of any meaning. Hong Kong is looking more like mainland China but where one ends and the other begins is hard to discern,” she mentioned.

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