Police Officials Begin Arresting Hong Kong Protesters Under New Anti-Protest Law
Police officials in Hong Kong have arrested nine people under the authority of the anti-protest law put in place by Beijing, according to a report by BBC News.
In addition to the nine arrests, 300 people were detained for attending a banned rally.
The anti-protest law seeks to ban “secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces”. Beijing holds the power to interpret the law rather than any Hong Kong judicial or policy body. Those who violate the measures can face punishments ranging from three years to life in prison.
In 1997, Britain granted China Hong Kong’s sovereignty given that certain rights were guaranteed to citizens for at least 50 years. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims that China has broken their promise to their Hong Kong citizens.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that the new anti-protest law would “restore stability” and is “considered the most important development in relations between the central government and Hong Kong since the handover.”
The law was put into practice for the first time when protesters gathered this week for the annual pro-democracy rally to commemorate the anniversary of the handover, which violated a COVID-19 restriction that banned gatherings of more than 50 people.
Police used water cannons, tear gas, and pepper spray on the protesters. One of the police was stabbed in the arm by a protester during the encounter.
The demonstrators chanted “resist till the end” and “Hong Kong independence”. The police responded with a flag that stated, “This is a police warning. You are displaying flags or banners / chanting slogans / or conducting yourself with an intent such as secession or subversion which may constitute offences under the ‘HKSAR National Security Law’. You may be arrested and prosecuted.”
Many countries and human rights activists have condemned the new law.
The UK is allowing up to three million Hong Kong residents to settle in the UK and apply for citizenship there. US lawmakers from both parties have also launched a bill to provide refugee status to any Hong Kong resident that is at risk of prosecution due to protesting.
The government in Taiwan is setting up a special office to assist citizens in Hong Kong who are facing immediate political risks.
Dominic Raab, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, called the law a “flagrant assault” on freedom of speech and the right to protest.
The EU feared that the law could “seriously undermine” the city’s independence.
Hong Kong citizens now fear protesting in favor of democracy for fear of punishment. Ted Hui, an opposition leader, said, “"Our freedom is gone, our rule of law, our judicial independence is gone”.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian condemned the foreign interference in their country’s domestic affairs and stated that other countries should view the situation objectively.
Read the full report here.