four college students arrested below new Hong Kong safety legislation for on-line posts

Hong Kong, July 30

Hong Kong police have arrested 4 folks aged 16-21 for suspected offences below the town’s new nationwide safety legislation, the primary such detentions exterior of road protests because the laws took impact a month in the past.

In a press convention shortly earlier than midnight on Wednesday, a police spokesman stated the three males and a girl, all college students, have been suspected of being concerned in a web based group that pledged to make use of each means to combat for an unbiased Hong Kong.

“We arrested for … subversions and for the organising and also the inciting (of) secession,” stated Li Kwai-wah, police superintendent on the nationwide safety division.

“They wanted to unite all the independent groups in Hong Kong for the view to promote the independence of Hong Kong.” China considers Hong Kong to be an “inalienable” a part of the nation, so requires independence are anathema to Beijing’s Communist Party leaders.

Police stated some cell phones, computer systems and paperwork have been seized within the operation.

Beijing imposed the contentious laws on its freest metropolis simply earlier than midnight on June 30, punishing what it broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with overseas forces with as much as life in jail.

Activists in Hong Kong scrambled to close or rebrand social media accounts that might fall foul of the brand new safety legislation earlier than it was imposed. Police stated the 4 have been suspected of posting content material that violated the laws in July.

Human Rights Watch condemned the arrests and urged governments to impose focused sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese authorities officers chargeable for the brand new legislation.

“The gross misuse of this draconian law makes clear that the aim is to silence dissent, not protect national security,” Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, stated.

The legislation has been condemned by some Western governments, enterprise leaders and human rights teams who say it represents the newest transfer by Beijing to tighten its grip over the previous British colony.

Beijing says the legislation is essential to plug gaping holes in nationwide safety defences uncovered by months of typically violent anti-government protests that rocked the town over the previous 12 months.

Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong say the legislation will likely be used to focus on solely a minority of “troublemakers.” In a Facebook put up, Initiative Independence Party stated 4 former members of Studentlocalism, a pro-independence group that was disbanded earlier than the brand new legislation took impact, had been arrested on suspicion of violating Articles 20 and 21 of the laws that embrace inciting secession. They have been denied bail.

Police didn’t title the suspects however native media and on-line posts stated Tony Chung, a former convener of Studentlocalism was amongst these arrested.

Critics of the safety laws worry it’s going to crush wide-ranging freedoms not seen on the mainland, together with freedom of speech, that have been assured to Hong Kong for 50 years when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Like Studentlocalism, many anti-government teams disbanded simply earlier than the legislation got here into pressure, starting from pro-independence Hong Kong National Front to pro-democracy Demosisto, which was led by younger activist Joshua Wong.

Hundreds of small outlets have taken down protest slogans off their partitions, whereas publishers have began to censor and even reject books they worry authorities would possibly deem subversive. Reuters

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