Hong Kong police arrest more political activists - parties

Venus Wu and Pak Yiu

HONG KONG, April 27 (Reuters) - Hong Kong police arrested

nine democracy activists on Thursday over a November protest

outside Beijing's representative office in the city, opposition

parties said, in what one of the activists said was a campaign

to stifle opposition.

The arrests followed the charging on Wednesday of two

disqualified pro-independence legislators over a separate

incident in November, when they tried to barge into a meeting of

the city's Legislative Council.

"Nine people have been taken from their respective homes to

the police station," Raphael Wong, a leader of the League of

Social Democrats party, said via a telephone text message.

Wong said the nine faced charges related to a Nov. 6

demonstration when thousands of people protested against an

interpretation by Beijing of Hong Kong's mini constitution,

which activists denounced as interference.

Hong Kong democracy activists worry about what they see as

increasing interference in Hong Kong's affairs by Beijing

despite a system meant to guarantee the autonomy of the

Chinese-ruled financial hub.

Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One of the nine, student Derek Lam, 23, said he had been

charged with inciting others to commit public nuisance before

being released on bail.

Lam said he believed the city's outgoing leader, Chief

Executive Leung Chun-ying, wanted to scare off opposition before

he steps down at the end of June.

"He is clearly trying to eliminate and scare those who want

to want to fight for democracy, the legislators and the

students, through arrests and legal tactics," Lam told reporters

outside the police station.

Leung's office did not immediately respond to a request for

comment.

Ten out of the city's 30 opposition lawmakers are fighting

various court cases.

The city's new leader, Carrie Lam, selected for the top job

in March, has vowed to heal divisions in the city.

The former British colony, governed under a "one country,

two systems" formula, was promised a high degree of autonomy and

the right to select its chief executive when it was handed back

to Chinese rule in 1997.

But 20 years later, only 1,200 people on an "election

committee" stacked with Beijing loyalists voted Lam into power.

The two disqualified legislators, Yau Wai-ching, 25, and

Baggio Leung, 30, have been told to appear in court on Friday.

They represent a new breed of more radical activists moving

into the political mainstream and had their swearing-in oaths

invalidated in October after they used language deemed

derogatory to China and displayed a banner declaring "Hong Kong

is not China".

The issue of independence, for long taboo, has gained

momentum since pro-democracy protests in late 2014 failed to

secure concessions from Beijing.

Nine leaders of the 2014 protests were in March charged with

incitement.

(Reporting by Venus Wu and Pak Yiu; Editing by Robert Birsel)