Tuesday 20 February 2018

Hong Kong 'planning to arrest democracy protest leaders'

Hong Kong's chief executive-elect Carrie Lam stands in front of reporters before making statement (AP)
Hong Kong's chief executive-elect Carrie Lam stands in front of reporters before making statement (AP)

A day after Hong Kong chose a new pro-Beijing leader in Carrie Lam, police are planning to arrest prominent figures involved with the 2014 "Umbrella Movement" pro-democracy protests, activists said.

Police have informed at least eight people that they will be charged with committing a public nuisance, the Demosisto political party said.

Hong Kong police have made no comment on the matter so far.

The crackdown, which comes more than two years after the end of the massive protests, could reignite political tensions in Hong Kong as the city prepares for its leadership transfer.

Beijing loyalist Carrie Lam promised to mend political divisions after she was named Hong Kong's next leader on Sunday.

But the arrests will likely stoke doubts about authorities' intentions among residents already worried about mainland China's tightening grip on the semi-autonomous city.

Those targeted for arrest include two university professors, Benny Tai and Chan Kin-man, and the Rev Chu Yiu-ming.

They founded a civil disobedience campaign which helped spark the 79-day protests demanding free elections for the city's top leader.

Others informed about their impending arrests include former student leaders Eason Chung and Tommy Cheung as well as three current and former pro-democracy politicians, Demosisto said.

Mr Chan said: "After all these years, first of all the timing, it's very strange. It seems to be a well-designed plan of CY." CY is a reference to Hong Kong's current leader, Leung Chun-ying, who is highly unpopular because of his hard-line stance against the protesters.

He will be replaced in July by Ms Lam, who will take over a city split by political divisions and fears that Beijing is undermining the "one country, two systems" framework which promises Hong Kong high autonomy from the mainland.

Ms Lam pledged "to heal the divide and to ease the frustrations and to unite our society to move forward", but protesters said the planned arrests will make this difficult.

Press Association

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