Hong Kong police arrest 300 amid protests over election delay
HONG KONG — On what was supposed to have been Hong Kong’s election day for the Legislative Council (Legco), around 300 pro-democracy protestors were arrested by the police on Sunday.
Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets to express their unease with Beijing’s increasing influence in Hong Kong’s ‘One country, two systems’ principle.
The Legco has always been led by the pro-Beijing camp despite overwhelming support received by the pro-democratic camp in primary elections since Hong Kong’s handover to China from Britain.
However, citizens’ growing vexation with Carrie Lam— current Chief Executive of Hong Kong, and the anti-sedition laws being passed by the Legco could have led to the pro-democracy camp winning this years elections.
Nevertheless, Lam managed to put a wrench in the democratic activists’ plans by, barring a number of first time politicians from running by using clauses from the recently implemented National Security Law.
The details of the law's 66 articles were kept secret until after it was passed. It criminalizes any act of: secession— breaking away from the country, subversion— undermining the power or authority of the central government, terrorism— using violence or intimidation against people, and collusion with foreign or external forces
Lam then proceeded to postpone the primary elections by a year in July because of the dangers posed by a new outbreak of coronavirus in the city. The decision was derided by pro-democracy figures and opposition politicians, who accused the government of using the pandemic to delay an election it could potentially lose.
"I want my right to vote," activist Leung Kwok-hung, popularly known as Long Hair, was quoted as saying. The Facebook page of Figo Chan, the vice-convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front activist group, said that Chan, Raphael Wong Ho-ming, and the former legislator Leung Kwok-hung were among those arrested.
Sunday saw one of the largest gatherings of protesters since China’s implementation of a comprehensive set of anti-sedition laws that a coalition of United Nations expert groups has said risks breaching multiple international laws and human rights.
The new laws being implemented go hand in hand with the vicious crackdown on dissent by the police leaving a chilling effect on educators, the media, academics, and politicians. Police have made mass arrests of pro-democracy figures, and conducted raids on newsrooms. Police also came under fire after footage showed officers tackling a 12-year-old girl to the ground near a pro-democracy protest went viral.
While protestors and activists are working tirelessly to prevent Hong Kong from turning into one country, one system, it is becoming more and more evident that the higher-ups back in Beijing are doing everything possible to stifle their right to self governance.
Reporter- Ananya Sreekumar