Hong Kong Set to Arrest Protest Leaders
Nine Hong Kong activists were informed Monday that they will be arrested for their involvement in the student protests of the Umbrella Movement of 2014 and charged with creating a public nuisance.
The news of their pending arrests comes one day after veteran civil servant Carrie Lam was selected by a pro-China election committee to become Hong Kong’s first female chief executive.
Democracy activists are concerned about Lam’s win and her pro-China tendencies. They are leery of China’s growing interference in Hong Kong and fearful of losing the former British colony’s “one country, two systems” formula that guarantees Hong Kong wide-ranging freedoms.
Lam said Sunday Hong Kong “is suffering from quite a serious divisiveness and has accumulated a lot of frustrations.” She said her “priority will be to heal the divide.”
Activist Raphael Wong told the French news agency, AFP, he had been notified he would receive the public nuisance charge for his role in the protests.
“As Carrie Lam talks about unity, they are saying you don’t need it,” Wong said.
Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan, also notified about the public nuisance charge that carries a maximum seven-year sentence, said the timing undermines Lam’s unity pledge. She also described the move as a “death kiss” from outgoing chief executive Leung Chun-ying who steps down in July.
Others targeted for arrest include university professors, former student leaders, and current and former pro-democracy lawmakers.
Tens of thousands of student protesters took to the streets in 2014 in what became known as the Umbrella Movement to demand full democracy for Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s chief is elected by a committee of 1,200 that includes tycoons and lawmakers, leaving millions of residents unable to vote for their leader.
The 59-year-old Lam’s victory with 777 votes was no surprise since Beijing had lobbied heavily for her. She was Hong Kong’s number two official before Sunday’s vote.