Police arrest pro-democracy activists under Hong Kong security law

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Sept. 8 (UPI) — Police in Hong Kong on Wednesday arrested four leaders of one of the city’s most prominent pro-democracy groups.

Four members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China were arrested after they said police sought details about its funding and membership as part of an investigation into whether it was acting as a “foreign agent” in violation of the government’s sweeping national security law.

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“Police operations are continuing and it cannot be ruled out that more people may be arrested,” police said in a statement confirming the arrests.

The group said the arrested members included vice chairwoman and barrister Chow Hang-tung along with standing committee members Leung Kam-wai, Tang Ngok-kwan and Chan Dor-wai.

Chow posted on social media Wednesday morning that police had been ringing her doorbell and attempting to open her door.

The Alliance on Sunday said it would not comply with the police orders to turn over personal details of its members and meeting records with political groups in Hong Kong, Taiwan and elsewhere.

Chow rejected the idea the group was acting on behalf of foreign powers, telling reporters Sunday they are “agents of the Hong Kong people’s conscience” and calling the police order “an abuse of power.”

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“They are trying to intimidate the people who participate in social movements,” she said. “We will now clearly state that this sort of intimidation will stop at us. We will not transmit that fear through our compliance.”

The city’s security agency responded with a “solemn warning” later Sunday stating that “endangering national security is a very serious crime” and the Alliance “should immediately turn back before it is too late.”

The security law was signed into law by Chinese President Xi Jinping last year imposing penalties ranging from up to three years to life in prison for secession, sedition, subversion, terrorism and working with foreign agencies to undermine the national security of the People’s Republic of China in Hong Kong.

The law was initially tabled after prompting months of pro-democracy protests in 2019 and received widespread condemnation internationally.

The Alliance was formed more than 30 years ago to support pro-democratic protests in Hong Kong and has also organized the annual vigil on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.