Rachel Maguire
Rachel Maguire
Author
3 min of reading
  • Four students have been arrested in Hong Kong in the first police operation to enforce China's new national security law for the territory.
  • A pro-independence group said the suspects included its former leader, Tony Chung.
  • Previous arrests under the new law have been for slogans and banners at protests.

Four students have been arrested in Hong Kong in the first police operation to enforce China's new national security law for the territory. The arrests are the sweeping legislation first to target public political figures since the government's law took control of the legislation city by Beijing late last month.

In a statement Student Localism, a group that used to defend independence, said its former leader Tony Chung, 19, was among those arrested. Mr. Chung was the former leader of a group that called for Hong Kong to become independent. Previous arrests under the new law have been for slogans and banners at protests. Beijing says the national security law is needed to end unrest, restore stability and will not impact political freedoms. But Beijing has dismissed the criticism, saying that the law is needed to stop the types of pro-democracy protests seen in Hong Kong during much of 2019. The first arrests after the law was made were against people who had pro-independence flags. The four students were accused of creating an organization to unite all pro-independence groups in Hong Kong, Li said. Also, computers, phones and documents were found, he said.

“If anyone who tells others that he advocates violating the national security law from abroad, even he does that from overseas, we have the jurisdiction to investigate these kind of cases”, he said.

The photo was taken inside the district Yuen Long District of Yuen Long, and Mr. Chung was led away in handcuffs. Prominent rights activist Joshua Wong said Mr. Chung had been followed by police for several days. He said Mr. Chung had been arrested for writing a Facebook post on “China's nationalism”.

“Tonight's arrest will clearly send a chilling effect on HK online speech”, Mr. Wong tweeted. The people arrested for this cannot be held responsible for slander, violence or violence Internet providers might have to hand over data if requested by police. The government in both mainland China and Hong Kong say the security law city security law will not affect free speech. But critics say the law undermines the freedoms that set Hong Kong apart from the rest of China. The UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have all suspended extradition treaties with Hong Kong since the new law was passed. In recent years, Hong Kong has seen a series of protests demanding more rights.

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