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