Arrests of pro-democracy figures under the national security law condemned

Press release
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(New York, Paris) FIDH and its member organization Human Rights in China (HRIC) condemn the latest wave of high-profile arrests of pro-democracy figures under the recently-enacted national security law. Yesterday, police in Hong Kong arrested 10 people, including independent media owner Jimmy Lai and pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow, on charges of collusion with foreign powers. At least 24 people have been arrested under the repressive law since its promulgation on 30 June 2020.

“Well-founded fears that the national security law would be used to suppress Hong Kong’s civil society, pro-democracy voices, and Beijing critics, have quickly materialized. The international community must apply more pressure on Beijing to demand an end to its iron-fisted rule of Hong Kong.”

Adilur Rahman Khan, FIDH Secretary-General

Yesterday morning, police arrested media mogul Jimmy Lai and one of his sons at their home. Later the same day, dozens of police raided the headquarters of Mr. Lai’s pro-democracy media company, Next Digital, searching the newsroom and arresting five people, including Lai’s other son and four top executives of the media group, which is frequently critical of Beijing. The police also seized 25 boxes of material from the office to process as evidence.

In the afternoon, pro-democracy activists Andy Li and Wilson Li were arrested on charges of collusion with foreign powers. Agnes Chow was subsequently arrested at around 9:00pm, for allegedly calling on foreign governments to impose sanctions on China on her social media account after the national security law took effect.

Since its promulgation, the law has had a profound chilling effect on Hong Kong civil society and has been used by the Hong Kong government to suppress pro-democracy voices and fundamental human rights.

In early July, leading pro-democracy activist and former lawmaker Nathan Law announced he had fled Hong Kong in order to continue to fight for democracy from abroad.

On 30 July, 12 pro-democracy candidates in the legislative elections, including prominent activist Joshua Wong, were disqualified from running - a decision the Hong Kong government justified based on the candidates’ criticism of the national security law, among other reasons.

On 31 July, it was reported that Hong Kong authorities had issued arrest warrants for six overseas activists, including Nathan Law, on charges of inciting secession and collusion with foreign powers.

However, Hong Kong people have continued to actively use social media and other platforms to resist the clearly politicized implementation of the law.

“The ongoing and predictable onslaught on the rule of law under a vague national security law has drawn widespread international concern and condemnation. Despite the climate of intimidation and fear, Hong Kongers continue to exercise their rights in the closing civil society space and express resistance in creative, diverse ways. The international community must stand in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong.”

Sharon Hom, HRIC Executive Director
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