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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Key pro-democracy activists held in Hong Kong as police tackle protests

Joshua Wong is said to have been bundled into a car, while another core member of the group was also detained.

Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, pictured in June, were both arrested on Friday (Kin Cheung/AP)
Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, pictured in June, were both arrested on Friday (Kin Cheung/AP)

By Ken Moritsugu, Associated Press

Hong Kong police have arrested well-known activist Joshua Wong and another core member of a pro-democracy group and denied permission for a major march as they appeared to be taking a harder line on this summer’s protests.

The organisers of Saturday’s march, marking the fifth anniversary of a decision by China against allowing fully democratic elections for the leader of Hong Kong, said they were calling it off after an appeals board denied permission. It is not clear whether some protesters will still demonstrate.

Police have been rejecting more applications for rallies and marches, citing violence at or after previous demos, and have also been arresting more people for participating in them.

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Hong Kong has been rocked by mass pro-democracy protests throughout the summer (Kin Cheung/AP)

Police said Mr Wong and Agnes Chow were held for investigation into their role in a June 21 unauthorised protest outside a police station.

Both face potential charges of participating in the demonstration and inciting others to join it, and Mr Wong is also being investigated on suspicion of organising it.

Mr Wong is secretary-general of Demosisto and Ms Chow is a prominent member of the group. Mr Wong was also one of the student leaders of the Umbrella Movement behind the major pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014.

Isaac Cheng, vice-chair of Demosisto, said the arrests were an attempt to spread fear and “white terror” among Hong Kong residents.

He accused authorities of trying to identify leaders in a “leaderless” movement that has rocked Hong Kong for nearly three months.

The Communist Party-ruled government in Beijing is pulling the strings and has misjudged the situation, he said, urging residents to continue protesting despite the risk of arrest.

Demosisto first reported the arrests on its social media accounts, saying Mr Wong was pushed into a private car as he was heading to a subway station early on Friday and was then taken to police headquarters. It later said Ms Chow was arrested at her home.

Mr Wong was released from prison in June after serving a two-month sentence related to a protest. He has been speaking out regularly in support of the pro-democracy marches.

This summer’s protests were sparked by extradition legislation that would have allowed suspects to be sent to mainland China to face trial, and they then grew amid general concern that China is chipping away at the rights of Hong Kong residents.

The extradition Bill was suspended but the protesters want it withdrawn entirely, and are also demanding democracy and an independent inquiry into police actions against protesters.

Meanwhile Andy Chan, the leader of a pro-independence movement, was arrested at Hong Kong airport on Thursday night.

Police said he was detained on suspicion of rioting and attacking police.

PA Media

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