HONG KONG, April 26 (Reuters) - Hong Kong police on
Wednesday arrested two disqualified pro-independence legislators
for unlawful assembly over an effort to force their way into a
Legislative Council meeting in November, their political party
Yau Wai-ching, 25, and Baggio Leung, 30, were picked up at
their homes early in the morning and taken to a police station
for questioning, their party, Youngspiration, said in a
Their assistants and a few volunteers were also arrested, it
added, without elaborating. The activists were still in the
police station on Wednesday afternoon.
Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"There may be dark days ahead, there may be more arrests and
legal challenges but we shall struggle against evil on the
streets, in the courts, within the community and on every media
platform," Youngspiration said.
The democratically elected pair, who represent a new breed
of more radical activists moving into the political mainstream,
had their swearing-in oaths invalidated last 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, which
paralysed parts of the Asian financial centre, failed to wrangle
concessions from Communist Party rulers in Beijing.
The detentions are likely to reinforce concern among
democracy activists about interference by Beijing in Hong Kong's
affairs, despite a system meant to guarantee the financial hub's
In March, nine leaders of the 2014 democracy protests were
charged with inciting the street occupation.
The nine were charged just a day after a new Beijing-backed
leader, Carrie Lam, was chosen as the city's next leader, seen
by many as a worrying sign after she had vowed to heal divisions
in the Chinese-ruled city and unite society.
In October, the president of the legislature delayed the
second swearing-in of Yau and Leung and temporarily banned them
from attending meetings, an unprecedented move that followed
weeks of pressure from factions loyal to Beijing.
China's parliament in November passed a ruling that
effectively barred the pair from taking office, Beijing's most
direct intervention in the territory's legal and political
system since the 1997 handover.
A Hong Kong court later disqualified the two from taking
office, ruling their oath of allegiance invalid.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to China in
1997 under a "one country, two systems" agreement that ensured
its freedoms and wide-ranging autonomy, including a separate
But Communist Party rulers in Beijing have ultimate control,
stepping in to interpret the Basic Law, Hong Kong's
constitution, and some residents are concerned they are
increasingly interfering to head off dissent.
(Reporting By Venus Wu; Writing by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing
by Robert Birsel)