The latest arrests relate to a group picked up by the Chinese Coast Guard as they fled in a speedboat, and now jailed on the mainland.
Hong Kong police on Thursday morning arrested 11 people under the Territory’s National Security Act for allegedly aiding 12 activists who tried to escape the city by speedboat and were so during the month latest. tried and imprisoned in mainland China.
Local media said eight men and three women – the youngest 18 and the oldest 72 – had been arrested in a series of raids that began at dawn. One of them was a high school student, according to local broadcaster TVB.
District councilor Daniel Wong, who is also a lawyer, was also among those detained, according to his Facebook account. It has a long history of providing legal assistance to pro-democracy activists, including those who took part in the 2019 protests.
There has been no official confirmation of the raids from the police.
The group was believed to have “helped offenders,” the South China Morning Post newspaper reported, citing an anonymous police source.
“We hope that the world is watching and that like-minded democracies are ready to act in response to the growing deterioration of human rights, freedom and the rule of law in Hong Kong,” Hong Kong Watch, a UK-based group that advocates for Hong Kong Kong Freedoms, wrote on Twitter, describing reports of the detentions as “disturbing.”
The group that tried to leave the territory by boat – including two teenagers – was arrested by the Chinese coast guard in August and held – unable to meet with family or their own lawyers – until their trial in Shenzhen on December 28. . Two days later the court jailed 10 of the activists for between seven months and three years, while the two under 18 were taken into police custody in Hong Kong.
Thursday’s arrests are part of an ongoing crackdown on Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement that has included elected politicians, as well as activists and lawyers. Media mogul Jimmy Lai is one of the most prominent people facing charges under national security law.
Last week, 50 people, including a U.S. citizen, were arrested under the law for their participation in organize a primary election to choose democratic candidates for the postponed Legislative Council elections. The group has been accused of “subversion”.
Beijing imposed security legislation – approved in record time and unattended by Hong Kong – on June 30 last year to an extent it deemed necessary to deal with “separatism” and “interference. foreign ”after months of sometimes violent protests in 2019.
The law punishes the crimes of secession, sedition and collusion with foreign forces with penalties of up to life in prison. Details of the legislation were not revealed until after it was passed.