Hong Kong activist arrested as hundreds gather to protest national security law
The People Power figure had claimed he was holding a ‘health talk’ exempt from the city’s coronavirus-inspired ban on gatherings larger than eight. Hong Kong police warned earlier they had mobilised enough officers to take decisive action and make arrests.
Hundreds of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest Beijing’s planned national security law for the city, denouncing the proposed legislation as a threat to civil liberties and the end of the “one country, two systems” principle.
People Power activist Tam Tak-chi was arrested while conducting what he called a “health talk” outside the Sogo department store in Causeway Bay on Sunday, saying such talks were exempt from Covid-19 rules banning gatherings of more than eight people.
“This is a health talk and is exempt from the rules. We have nurses here,” he said. He went on to accuse local pro-Beijing figures of wanting to make Hong Kong like any other mainland Chinese city.
The police warned Tam he was conducting an unauthorised assembly before arresting him shortly thereafter.
“Fight for freedom! Stand with Hong Kong!” he chanted as he was taken away.
After his arrest, more than 100 people gathered outside Sogo, chanting “Hongkongers, revenge!” and “Hong Kong independence is the only way out!”.
Earlier in the day, the force urged citizens on its Facebook page not to take part in any unauthorised assemblies, saying it had mobilised enough officers to take decisive action and make arrests. Groups of riot police in full gear had begun gathering in locations near the department store before noon.
The protest took place two days after a resolution to “prevent, frustrate and punish” threats to national security in Hong Kong was presented to China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress. The draft legislation would outlaw acts of secession, subversion and terrorism.
The resolution is expected to be passed on May 28, authorising the NPC Standing Committee to craft a tailor-made national security law and impose it on Hong Kong, bypassing the city’s legislature.
The new law would require the Hong Kong government to set up new institutions to safeguard sovereignty and allow mainland agencies to operate in the city as needed, sparking concerns about mainland agents making arbitrary arrests.
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