Hong Kong pro-democracy activists stand trial. Photograph:( Reuters )
Nearly 50 democrats were asked to report to local police stations across the city for what is being termed as the largest national security operation
In another crackdown of pro-democracy voices in Hong Kong, several dozen democrats have been charged with security crimes minutes after they were due to report to local police stations across the city on Sunday, as per local statements.
The democrats have been charged for violating the controversial national security law which was recently imposed by China in Hong Kong. "Police this afternoon laid a charge against 47 persons... with one count of 'conspiracy to commit subversion'," the city's police force said in a statement.
Nearly 50 democrats were asked to report to local police stations across the city for what is being termed as the largest national security operation since the law was passed in June 2020.
"Democracy is never a gift from heaven. It must be earned by many with strong will," Jimmy Sham, a key organiser of 2019's huge protests, told reporters outside a police station. "We can tell the whole world, under the most painful system, Hong Kongers are the light of the city. We will remain strong and fight for what we want."
The majority of these democrats were detained along with Benny Tai, one of the main organisers of an unofficial primary election held last summer.
All democrats, along with Tai, were detained, questioned and their mobile phones and laptops were confiscated at the time. However, the activists were released pending further investigation.
"My chance of bail won’t be too great," Tai wrote in a social media post hours before he is due at the police station. He has been accused by China of organising and participating in an unofficial "primary election" in July 2020, which aimed at selecting the strongest candidates for a legislative council election.
Along with Tai, John Clancey, a US citizen and human rights lawyer, a group of younger “resistance camp” democratic activists including Lester Shum, Sam Cheung, Ventus Lau and Fergus Leung have also been summoned to the local police stations.
The democrats have denounced these mass arrests as political persecution for a 'peaceful' poll that saw nearly 600,000 votes.
As of now, 99 people have been arrested on suspicion of violations of the security laws, the Hong Kong police reported. Of these, some have been denied bail — one of the known names being the entrepreneur and activist Jimmy Lai.