Two pro-democracy oppn lawmakers arrested in Hong Kong

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 16, 2019, pro-democracy lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting (C) stands up and protests shortly before Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam (not pictured) leaves the chamber for the second time while trying to present her annual policy address at the Legislative Council (Legco) in Hong Kong. - Two prominent Hong Kong opposition lawmakers were arrested early on August 26, 2020 in a police operation focused on last year's huge anti-government protests, the latest move in a widening crackdown against the city's democracy camp. (Photo by ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP)


Hong Kong

Hong Kong police arrested 16 people Wednesday on charges related to anti-government protests last year, including two opposition lawmakers.

Pro-democracy legislators Ted Hui and Lam Cheuk-ting announced their arrests on social media.

Posts on Lam’s Twitter account said he had been arrested on charges of conspiring with others to damage property and obstructing justice during a protest in July 2019.  The tweets said he has also been accused of rioting on July 21, 2019.

That was the day a group of more than 100 men clad in white attacked protesters and passengers with steel rods and rattan canes in a subway station. Protesters and many from the opposition camp have accused the police of colluding with the attackers, as they arrived late to the scene and did not make arrests that night.

A post on Hui’s Facebook page did not make clear the exact charges he was facing. The chairman of the Democratic Party in Hong Kong, Wu Chi-wai, called the arrests of Lam and Hui “ridiculous.” Lawmaker James To said the arrests amounted to political persecution.

The two were arrested along with 14 others — aged between 26 and 48 years old — in relation to protests last year, according to a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press before an official statement had been released.

The semi-autonomous Chinese city saw months of protests after the government announced its intent to pass an extradition bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to the mainland to stand trial.

Anger over the bill, seen as an infringement on the former British colony’s freedoms, sparked huge demonstrations that at times descended into violence between police and protesters, and rallies continued even after the bill was shelved.

China later passed a sweeping national security law, which has been viewed as an attack on the “one country, two systems” framework under which the city has been governed since its return to China in 1997.

Since the start of the protests in June 2019, Hong Kong police has made more than 9,000 arrests.