Hong Kong police arrested at least 14 pro-democracy activists on Saturday for allegedly organizing unauthorized protests last year, local press reported today.
The political party of The League of Social Democrats confirmed on Facebook that its President Raphael Wong, Vice President Leung Kwok-hung and Secretary General Avery Ng are among those arrested.
Former lawmakers such as Martin Lee Chu-ming and Lee Cheuk-yan, who previously belonged to the Democratic Party, or Figo Chan Ho-wun, deputy coordinator of the Civil Front for Human Rights, also appear, the Hong Kong Free Press newspaper said.
These people have been detained for organizing protests prohibited by the police on August 18, and on October 20 last year, according to the newspaper.
The one on August 31, which marked the thirteenth consecutive weekend of protests in the city, was held with the participation of tens of thousands of people despite the rain.
Although the objective was to protest at the headquarters of the Liaison Office – an organization that represents the Peking Government in Hong Kong -, many congregated at the headquarters of the police force, which decided to use blue-tinted water cannons for the first time since start of the massive demonstrations.
The march was called by the Civil Front for Human Rights, the body that was behind the movement’s most massive and peaceful protests, but the authorities denied permission to hold it, arguing that episodes of violence had occurred in other protests.
The October 1 protest, which unfolded as Beijing commemorated the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, ended in a critically injured bullet, dozens of detainees, tear gas canisters and burning barricades.
And the one on the 20th of that month, which had as its theme its opposition to the so-called anti-mask law and called for a reform of the police force, also ended scenes of chaos and serious confrontations when the most radicals opted to block roads, ignite bonfires and throwing Molotov cocktails at police stations.
STOP IN PROTESTS DUE TO COVID-19
In recent months, Hong Kong authorities have stepped up their efforts to tighten the screws on dissent, and since the protests began in March 2019, they have detained or fined numerous activists and prominent figures in the pro-democracy struggle.
The protests began in opposition to a controversial extradition bill that lawyers and activists say could have allowed Beijing access to “fugitives” refugees in the former British colony.
These protests have mobilized hundreds of thousands of people since June and led to serious clashes with the police, which they accuse of abusing their power to deter protests.
The massive anti-government protests in Hong Kong appear to be at a standstill due to the COVID-19 epidemic, but supporters of the pro-democracy movement have warned that, when the health crisis ends, they could return to the streets to demonstrate again.