Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, former student leaders of 2014’s Umbrella Movement, were detained on Friday and charged with offenses such as participation in an unauthorized assembly outside police headquarters on June 21.
Others reportedly arrested this week include Andy Chan, leader of a now-banned pro-independence party; Althea Suen, another former student leader; Rick Hui Yiu-yu, a Sha Tin district councilor; and Cheng Chung-tai, a New Territories West legislator.
Meanwhile, Ivan Lam, current chairman of Demosistō — the organization Wong and Chow led in the 2014 protests — was charged in absentia and could not be arrested as he is in Taiwan.
Amnesty International called Friday’s arrests a tactic “straight out of Beijing’s playbook.” The organization called for an end to “this concerted attack on the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly.”
Wong, who served as the face of the Umbrella Movement, was released from jail on June 17. Ahead of his latest arrest, he told reporters that Hongkongers have become more united.
“They [China] cannot govern Hong Kong any more. Five years ago, we said youngsters were standing on the frontlines and parents were criticising them,” the 22-year-old said, according to the Guardian. “But baby boomers have been very supportive this time. People might not agree with all the behaviour of the protesters, but everyone is asking what’s the reason for teargas in residential areas, in roads where there aren’t even protesters?”
However, he predicted that things could get worse if protesters fumble. “If we don’t continue, the crackdown will be far worse than you can imagine.”
Wong and Chow were released on bail on Friday afternoon after appearing in Eastern Court to face their charges, according to RTHK. Both were given curfews between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and banned from entering the Admiralty area, where protests took place on June 21.
“We (are) strongly aware of how President Xi Jinping and the Beijing government are the ones who back and endorse the Hong Kong police to conduct such a mass arrest and prosecution,” Wong said, according to CNN. “It just implies that the one country, two systems (set up) has already eroded to one country, one-and-a-half systems. High degree autonomy is strongly being eroded under the chilling effect of troops moving to the border … Beijing just continuously manipulates on Hong Kong people’s freedom and we shall never surrender.”
Chow said that authorities are clearly trying to scare people. “We can see very clearly that the regime and the Hong Kong government is trying to create a white terror to try to scare Hong Kong people to not participate in the social and democratic movement of the future.”
“But, we, Hong Kong people won’t give up and won’t be scared of this white terror and injustice. We will keep on fighting for democracy and five demands of Hong Kong people, including a complete retraction of the extradition law and independent investigation over police violence and also the most important thing is the universal suffrage and a democratic political system in Hong Kong,” she added.
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