(Hong Kong) Four Hong Kong students involved in a recently disbanded independence group were arrested by police on Wednesday under the controversial new national security law, we learned from the group and security forces.
France Media Agency
These are the first arrests targeting public political figures since the entry into force of this law, imposed by Beijing on its semi-autonomous territory on 30 Last June.
The four arrested students – three men and a woman aged 16 to 21 years – are suspected of “organizing and inciting secession”, according to police.
“Our sources and our investigation show that the group recently announced on social networks the creation of an organization that advocates the independence of Hong Kong,” Li Kwai-wah, an officer member of the new national security unit created within the Hong Kong police.
In a statement, Student Localism, a group advocating independence and disbanded in June, said its former leader Tony Chung, 18 years old, was among those arrested. Two other former members of the group have been identified by politicians and local media.
The national security law imposed by the communist regime in Beijing punishes “subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces”.
It makes the local pro-democracy opposition fear a serious decline in the freedoms in force in the former British colony of 7.5 million inhabitants, ceded to China in 1997.
The recent abuses “of this draconian law clearly show that the objective is to silence dissent, and not to protect national security,” responded Sophie Richardson, research director on China at Human Rights Watch , after the last arrests.
Details of the new law, which bypasses the local legislative council, were kept secret until promulgated. Overnight, some opinions, especially those advocating independence or greater territorial autonomy, became illegal.
The first arrests that followed the promulgation of the law targeted people with independence flags.
It was the Hong Kong police who made the arrests on Wednesday. The new law, however, allows Chinese security agents to openly intervene in the former British colony for the first time.