Four Students Arrested to Enforce New National Security Law in Hong Kong
Following the imposition of China’s new national security law in Hong Kong, four students have been arrested for “inciting secession” on social media.
Former leader of a pro-independence group, Tony Chung, has also been arrested under the controversial law. The new law imposed by Beijing criminalises subversion, secession and collusion with foreign forces.
While Hongkongers and other foreign countries believe that the new national security law has put the former British territory’s freedom at stake, Beijing has denied all criticism saying the law is imperative to end the pro-democracy protests, which were prevalent across Hong Kong in 2019.
The police confirmed that a woman and three men, all aged between 16 and 21, were arrested on suspicion of organising and inciting secession. Computers, phones and some documents were seized from the detainees.
“Our sources and investigation show that the group recently announced on social media to set up [sic] an organisation that advocates Hong Kong independence,” said Li Kwai-wah from the new national security unit inside Hong Kong police.
Prior to the new national security law coming into force, Studentlocalism – a pro-independence youth group was dissolved in June. The arrested students have had links with this group, which is now believed to be running its campaign from abroad. However, Kwai-wah said that even abroad activities could be prosecuted.
“If anyone who tells others that he advocates violating the national security law from abroad, even he does that from overseas, we have the jurisdiction to investigate these kind of cases,” he said.
Prominent rights activist Joshua Wong said Chung was being followed by police from quite a few days. Chung has been arrested for writing a Facebook post on “China’s nationalism”, Wong said. He also alleged that the detainees’ phones had been hacked shortly after their arrest.
“Tonight’s arrest will clearly send a chilling effect on HK online speech,” Wong tweeted.
The new national security law has made inciting hatred towards China’s central government and Hong Kong’s regional government illegal. It allows closed-door trials, wire-tapping of suspects and the trial of suspects to be run in the mainland. A wide range of acts, including damaging public transport facilities, can be considered terrorism under the new national security law. Moreover, internet providers may have to hand over data to police in case required.
While the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities have repeatedly claimed that the new national security law will not affect the freedom of the people, critics say that the law undermines the freedom that set Hong Kong apart from the rest of China and helped define its character.
As soon as the law was implemented, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada suspended their extradition treaties with the financial hub of Asia. The US, however, revoked the special trading privileges which the Hong Kong enjoyed prior to the new national security law being forced.
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