Then, on Sunday afternoon, the Hong Kong pro-democracy activists fanned out to police stations across the territory, where more than 40 of them were officially charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion” under the national security law, according to police. They were detained immediately, will be held overnight for a court session on Monday, and face life in prison if found guilty.
The charging of such a large group represents the harshest and widest use of Beijing’s national security law in Hong Kong to date, dramatically increasing the number of people taken under the draconian legislation. Friends and family fear they will be denied bail and instead remain in detention before trial, like the five previously detained under the law — a significant departure from Hong Kong’s common law system.
The charges now mean that every prominent, and even moderate, opposition voice in Hong Kong is either now in jail, or in exile, crushing the city’s democratic aspirations as Beijing tightens its grips around the city’s core institutions.
“None of us knew the situation would become like this today,” said Tiffany Yuen in an interview before stepping into the police station in the district she represents as an elected local official. Holding back tears behind her new pink glasses, the 27 year-old said that she had no regrets.
“We cannot judge whether our choices were right or wrong based on the consequences now,” Yuen said. “This was our responsibility, which as a Hong Konger, you want to bear in that moment.”
Those charged on Sunday were among more than 50 Hong Kong residents arrested in January under the security law, accused of subversion for holding a primary vote last July ahead of legislative elections. Those legislative elections were ultimately postponed, and some of them were barred from running in them anyway, demonstrating how Beijing is using the full force of laws available to eliminate dissent and political opposition in the city.
At the time, those arrested were detained, questioned and made to turn over their phones and passports, but were released. The charges on Sunday intensifies the persecution of the Hong Kong’s activists, who Beijing see as responsible for whipping up anti-government sentiment that led to mass protests in 2019, though the movement was largely leaderless.
The detentions also demonstrate that the law is not just a deterrent but an active tool to be used against any opposition. The national security law, drafted entirely by Beijing and passed without any consultation in Hong Kong, criminalizes broadly worded crimes like “secession,” “subversion,” “terrorism” and “collusion with foreign forces.” The law has transformed Hong Kong and its institutions, including schools, the media, the legislature and the courts, chipping away at the territory’s promised autonomy which was meant to be preserved until 2047.
Those charged include Benny Tai, who helped organize the unofficial…
Go to the news source: Dozens of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists arrested under national security law