AGENCIES, Hong Kong: In a major crackdown on dissidence, Hong Kong police arrested at least 14 opposition activists for the unlawful protests in August last year on Saturday. Among those arrested were 81-year-old activist and former lawmaker Martin Lee and democracy advocates Albert Ho, Lee Cheuk-yan and Au Nok-hin.
Police also arrested media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who founded local newspaper Apple Daily.
The protests were held against proposed extradition legislation and exposed deep divisions between democracy-minded Hong Kongers and the Communist Party-ruled central government in Beijing.
The bill if passed would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be sent to mainland China to stand trial. As of now it has been withdrawn, but the protests have continued for more than seven months with other demands like voting rights and an independent inquiry into police conduct.
While the protests began peacefully, they increasingly became violent after demonstrators became frustrated with the government’s response.
Most Hong Kong citizens feel that their leader Carrie Lam ignored their demands and used local police to suppress them.
The League of Social Democrats wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday its leaders were among those arrested, including chairman Raphael Wong. They were accused of participating in two unauthorized protests on Aug. 18 and Oct. 1 last year. Pro-establishment figures have accused the opposition of endangering Hong Kong’s autonomy.
Hong Kong is experiencing a lull in protest activity as it battles the coronavirus outbreak which has infected 1,204 and killed 4 so far.