by WorldTribune Staff, April 20, 2020
In a series raids on April 18, Hong Kong police arrested 15 pro-democracy activists in what reports said was the biggest crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement since the outbreak of mass protests last year.
Among those detained on charges of illegal assembly were Democratic Party founder Martin Lee, publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai, and former lawmaker and barrister Margaret Ng, Reuters reported, citing media and political sources.
Democratic legislator Claudia Mo, who was not among those detained, said the city government, led by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, was trying “to introduce a ring of terror in Hong Kong. They are doing whatever they can to try to silence, to take down, the local opposition,” Mo said, pointing to upcoming legislative elections in September in which democrats hope to win back veto power in the city assembly.
Police sources later confirmed the arrest of Leung Yin-Chung, the only serving legislator to be caught up in the raids so far.
After his release on bail, Martin Lee said he did not regret his actions: “I’m proud to have the chance to walk our democracy road with Hong Kong’s excellent young people.”
Authorities in Hong Kong have arrested more than 7,800 people over their involvement in the protests, including many on rioting charges that can carry jail terms of up to 10 years.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in a statement: “I condemn the latest assault on the rule of law and the liberty of the people of Hong Kong. These events show how antithetical the values of the Chinese Communist Party are to those we share in Western liberal democracies. These actions — along with its malign influence activity and industrial espionage here in the United States — demonstrate once again that the Chinese Communist Party cannot be trusted.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement: “The United States condemns the arrest of pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong. Beijing and its representatives in Hong Kong continue to take actions inconsistent with commitments made under the Sino-British Joint Declaration that include transparency, the rule of law, and guarantees that Hong Kong will continue to ‘enjoy a high degree of autonomy.’ ”
Britain’s Foreign Office also criticized the arrests, saying, “the right to peaceful protest is fundamental to Hong Kong’s way of life and as such is protected in both the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.”
The Office of the Commissioner of the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong said police were enforcing the law against those suspected of organizing and participating in unauthorized assemblies, and foreign countries have no right to interfere, China’s Xinhua propaganda outlet said.
“It is completely wrong that the UK Foreign Office spokesperson has distorted the truth by painting unauthorized assemblies as ‘peaceful protests,’ in a bid to whitewash, condone and exonerate the anti-China troublemakers in Hong Kong,” the Xinhua statement said.