Hong Kong opposition activists detained in mass national security law arrests have bail extended

Danny Mok
·3-min read

Fifty-two opposition activists, including Benny Tai Yiu-ting, who were arrested last month on suspicion of subversion in the biggest crackdown under Hong Kong’s national security law had their bail extended on Wednesday.

But three others who were also detained in the large-scale police operation – Joshua Wong Chi-fung, former Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai, and People Power’s Tam Tak-chi – remained in custody in connection with other cases.

Tai, the architect of the opposition’s primary polls last year that authorities said aimed to “overthrow” the government, walked out of Ma On Shan Police Station at about 4pm.

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The former University of Hong Kong law professor declined to speak to the media, saying it was no longer safe to do so.

He later posted a message on his Facebook page that said he was expected to report to police again on April 8, and wished “peace be with everyone”.

Owen Chow Ka-shing, who stood as a candidate in the primary, was among those who reported back to police on Wednesday, but he was arrested on suspicion of rioting in connection with the storming of the Legislative Council on July 1, 2019.

The 24-year-old has also been a spokesman for the families of some of the 12 fugitive Hongkongers detained in Shenzhen.

Before his arrest, Chow, who celebrated his birthday on Wednesday, said: “I wish peace be with everyone, and we can go through the ‘white terror’ soon.”

District councillor Lester Shum also had his bail extended, and said he felt “very fortunate” to be heading home for Lunar New Year, while former Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho said the opposition “must not give up”.

A police spokesman said bail for the group had been extended to April 8, when the 52 activists must report back again. No charges have been laid.

Explainer | what led to biggest mass arrests under national security law?

On January 6, nearly 1,000 police officers raided homes across the city shortly after dawn. The force said the opposition camp’s campaign for the primary elections included plans to “paralyse” and “overthrow” the government.

Those arrested decried their detentions as a bid to crush dissent, and while Beijing welcomed the crackdown, Western nations condemned the move as an attack on human rights.

After the arrests, Tai, who had drafted the opposition’s election strategy to try and win a majority in Legco, was singled out by both the Office for Safeguarding National Security, and Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, which issued statements backing the crackdown.

Tai had proposed ways to paralyse the government by vetoing the budget, and predicted that the move would lead to the disqualification of opposition candidates for Legco elections, thereby convincing more people to support them.

Mike Lam King-nam, founder of AbouThai, leaves Ma On Shan Police Station on Wednesday. Photo: Nora Tam
Mike Lam King-nam, founder of AbouThai, leaves Ma On Shan Police Station on Wednesday. Photo: Nora Tam

Ultimately, he believed this would lead to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor’s resignation and Beijing’s declaration of a state of emergency in Hong Kong.

Tai and American lawyer John Clancey, also a permanent Hong Kong resident, were arrested on suspicion of subverting state power by organising the primary, along with four others: Power for Democracy convenor Andrew Chiu Ka-yin; deputy convenor Ben Chung Kam-lun; former lawmaker Au Nok-hin; and Gordon Ng Ching-hang.

This article Hong Kong opposition activists detained in mass national security law arrests have bail extended first appeared on South China Morning Post

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