Hong Kong arrests pro-democracy activists

Hong Kong arrests pro-democracy activists

Agency News

Two leading Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were arrested by Hong Kong authorities on Friday ahead of a major demonstration scheduled on Saturday.

Demosisto Party, one of the leading front-runner party of the pro-democracy movement, leaders Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow were taken in custody by Hong Kong Police on Friday. Both of them were arrested just hours after the detention of pro-independence activist, Andy Chan.

Earlier, independence activist Andy Chan was detained at the city's airport. Demosisto Party reported on social media that Wong, the organisation's secretary-general, and Chow, a senior member, were arrested separately and taken to the Wan Chai police headquarters.

The South China Morning Post reported that Wong and Chow are being charged for "unlawful assembly". Wong was walking to a train station on Friday morning (2330 GMT Tuesday), when he was "forcefully pushed into a private minivan", Demosisto said. Two hours later, Chow was also arrested.

Meanwhile, Chan was reportedly detained "on suspicion of rioting and assaulting a police officer", according to the Hong Kong Free Press. Chan, the leader of the banned pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, was detained as he was about to board a flight to Japan late on Thursday, the publication added.

Wong, 22, was one of the leaders of the so-called Umbrella Movement that brought Hong Kong to a standstill for more than two months in late 2014. The pro-democracy protest began demanding to scrap the extradition bill legislation by Hong Kong government.

The arrests and detention come as a political crisis in the city continues, with another major rally expected on Saturday. Protesters say freedoms in the semi-autonomous city, unique within China, are being eroded by Beijing. With these arrests, more than 850 people have been arrested in connection with the recent protests since June.

Saturday marks the fifth anniversary of Beijing's rejection of a call for universal suffrage in the city. Permission for a mass rally this weekend was denied on security grounds, raising the likelihood of another weekend of clashes between police and protesters, who will likely come out in defiance of the ban.

In a letter to the rally organisers the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), police said they feared some participants would commit "violent and destructive acts".