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Hong Kong police arrest pro-democracy activists

By
Darryl Coote
Police arrested pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong (R) Friday as demonstrations in Hong Kong stretch into their 13th week. Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE
Police arrested pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong (R) Friday as demonstrations in Hong Kong stretch into their 13th week. Photo by Jerome Favre/EPA-EFE

Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Hong Kong police arrested prominent pro-democracy activists as mass protests in the semi-autonomous region stretch into their 13th week.

Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, activists who gained prominence during the pro-democracy umbrella movement that rocked Hong Kong in 2014, were arrested Friday morning, the protest organization Demosisto said.

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Wong, secretary-general of Demosisto, was arrested while walking to a subway station and Chow was taken into custody at her home.

"Wong was forcefully pushed into a private minivan on the street in broad daylight," the group said via Twitter. "Our lawyers following the case now."

Both were taken to police headquarters in Wan Chai, Demosisto said.

They were detained for allegedly inciting, organizing and participating in an unauthorized assembly June 21 outside police headquarters, the group said in a Facebook post.

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On June 21, protesters surrounded the police headquarters, demanding for a now-shelved extradition bill to be rescinded. Protesters then besieged the building and pelted it with eggs while demanding the resignations of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, as well as the secretary for security and police commissioner, for having authorized police to fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds on June 12.

The group said Ivan Lam, a third activist who was also believed to have been arrested, was not in police custody.

On Thursday, pro-independence party leader Andy Chan was arrested at the Hong Kong airport on suspicion of rioting, the Hong Kong Free Press reported.

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In the statement published to the group's Facebook page, Demosisto implied the charges were baseless, stating the pro-democracy movement was leaderless and that they were not orchestrating the protests "behind the scenes."

They said they were "very angry" about the early-morning arrests on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the so-called 831 decision, which set strict limits by China over the selection of the Hong Kong government, setting off months-long protests now called the umbrella movement.

Meanwhile, the Civil Human Rights Front, another pro-democracy group, announced it canceled a scheduled march Saturday as police did not authorize the protest.

"Our planned demonstration for tomorrow, the fifth anniversary of 8.31 decision that blocked our way to democracy, has been objected by the police, and the appeal unanimously ruled unsuccessful today by the appeal board," the group said. "Therefore, we are unable to call and will not be calling for a demonstration tomorrow."

The arrests come as mass protests stretch into the 13th week that started in June against an extradition bill that would see some fugitives from mainland law sent to face communist-controlled courts in Beijing but has since expanded into a larger pro-democracy movement.

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