Sunday 22 September 2019

Pro-democracy activists arrested and bailed in Hong Kong ‘incitement’ crackdown

Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow remain under investigation for their role in the protest movement.

Pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, left, and Agnes Chow, are escorted in a police van (Kin Cheung/AP)
Pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, left, and Agnes Chow, are escorted in a police van (Kin Cheung/AP)

By Ken Moritsugu, Associated Press

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong and another core member of a pro-democracy group were granted bail after being charged with inciting people to join a protest in June, while authorities denied permission for a major march in what appears to be a harder line on this summer’s protests.

The organisers of Saturday’s march, 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 was unclear whether some protesters would still demonstrate on their own.

Police have been rejecting more applications for rallies and marches, citing violence at or after earlier ones.

They also are arresting people for protests earlier this summer.

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

Three others were taken in earlier this week for the vandalising of the legislature offices on July 1.

“The first priority of the Civil Human Rights Front is to make sure that all of the participants who participate in our marches will be physically and legally safe. That’s our first priority,” said Bonnie Leung, a leader of the group.

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Pro-democracy activists Agnes Chow, right, and Joshua Wong (Kin Cheung/AP)

“And because of the decision made by the appeal board, we feel very sorry but we have no choice but to cancel the march.”

Police said Mr Wong and Agnes Chow are being investigated for their role in a June 21 unauthorised protest outside a police station.

Both are charged with participating in the demonstration and inciting others to join it.

Mr Wong is also charged with organising it.

Mr Wong is secretary-general of Demosisto and Ms Chow is a prominent member.

He was one of the student leaders of the Umbrella Movement, the major pro-democracy demonstrations in 2014.

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People hold up lights as they take part in a rally at the financial district in Hong Kong on Wednesday (Kin Cheung/AP)

Both were granted bail hours after their arrests.

Isaac Cheng, the vice chair of the group, said the arrests are 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 around 7:30 a.m. and was taken to police headquarters.

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Thousands of demonstrators march in the rain in Hong Kong last Sunday (Kin Cheung/AP)

It later said Ms Chow had also been arrested, at her home.

Mr Wong was released from prison in June after serving a two-month sentence related to that protest.

He has been speaking out regularly in support of the pro-democracy protests that have racked Hong Kong this summer.

The protests were set off by extradition legislation that would have allowed suspects to be sent to mainland China to face trial and expanded to the 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 and are also demanding democracy and an independent inquiry into police actions against protesters.

Police said Mr Chan was arrested under suspicion of rioting and attacking police.

PA Media

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