HONG KONG | The Hong Kong police conducted Saturday a large-scale operation against the leaders of the pro-democracy movement, arresting 14 people for their support or participation in the huge demonstrations that have rocked the financial centre of asia last year.
Among those detained is the media magnate Jimmy Lai, 72, a founder of the opposition newspaper Apple Daily, apprehended at his home.
Parliamentarians or ex-parliamentarians, Martin Lee, Margaret Ng, Albert Ho, Leung Kwok-hung and The Nok-hin, accused of having organized and participated in illegal gatherings in August and October, have also been arrested, police said.
Five other people arrested are suspected of having promoted events banned in September and October.
“The arrested persons are accused or will be accused of crimes related to” what kind of facts, said commissioner Lam Wing-ho.
The 14 arrested will appear in court in mid-may.
Jimmy Lai had previously been arrested in February for his participation in a demonstration in August 2019, as the police had forbidden for security reasons.
“I’ve got to be stopped. How do I feel? I feel very relieved “, said his side to the press, Martin Lee after having been released on bail.
“For many years, so many months, so many young people have been arrested and prosecuted, while I was not arrested. I regret it, ” added the lawyer, 81-year-old, who had created the first political party in Hong Kong where it is regarded as the father of democracy.
He said he did not regret his actions and be proud to support the youth in hong kong in its fight for democracy.
Hong Kong had been shaken for several months by 2019 by huge events, sometimes interspersed with violence. They had been caused initially by a project of law (now abandoned) which authorize the extradition to mainland China, where citizens have less rights and where the judicial system is much more opaque.
“The arrests today of leaders of pro-democracy in Hong Kong are the coup de grace for the concept of +One country, two systems+,” said the director of Human Rights Watch to China, Sophie Richardson, alluding to the principle which ensures in the city of the freedoms that were not the Chinese of the continent.
“It is difficult to predict future initiatives of Beijing, but it seems that the leaders of Hong Kong will continue to lead to abuse rather than defend the rights of the inhabitants of Hong Kong “, she lamented.
The rallies giants of 2019 in the territory semi-autonomous, have quickly mutated into a pro-democracy movement calling for greater freedoms, which has become the biggest challenge the power of Beijing since the former british colony, is passed back into the fold of china in 1997.
The protests and clashes with the police gradually ceased, partly due to the exhaustion and arrests, but also of the pandemic of sars coronavirus.
Chinese leaders have refused to yield to the demands of the activists, pro-democracy, such as the organization of free elections in the city, an investigation into police violence during the protests and amnesty for more than 7,000 people (many of whom were not 20 years old) arrested during the movement.
The parliamentary pro-democracy Claudia Mo said on Saturday that the local government is trying all its forces to put in place a reign of terror “.
“They are doing everything they can to try to silence and destroy the local opposition, but we remain united,” she said. “It is obvious that all of their actions are staged “.