How to see Joshua Wong in Singapore

USA threatens US sanctions after mass arrests in Hong Kong

Washington / Hong Kong The US has threatened sanctions after the arrest of more than 50 democracy activists in Hong Kong. "The US will not stand idly by when the people in Hong Kong suffer from communist oppression," said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Thursday. Like the US, the UN demanded the "immediate release" of those arrested. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong authorities increased their threats of punishment against prominent imprisoned democracy activist Joshua Wong.

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Pompeo said the US government would consider "sanctions and other restrictions" on all concerned. He demanded the "immediate release" of those arrested.

Hong Kong police arrested 53 government opponents on Wednesday under the so-called security law, including former MPs, young activists and a US citizen who works for a Hong Kong law firm. The accused were accused of "subversion", it was said.

The UN was "very concerned" about the arrests, said spokeswoman Liz Throssel. These showed that the provisions on "subversion" served exactly "as feared" to arrest individuals for exercising their "legitimate rights" to participate in public political life. The security law is "imprecise" and facilitates "improper application". The authorities must guarantee freedom of expression and assembly.

The so-called security law passed by Beijing in June allows the authorities a draconian crackdown on all activities in Hong Kong that they believe threaten national security and massively encroaches on the autonomous rights of the Special Administrative Region. The law was passed in response to the mass pro-democracy protests of 2019.

When it was handed over to China in 1997, the former British crown colony had been granted special rights for 50 years, including freedom of expression and assembly. Western states see the so-called security law as a blatant violation of the agreements made at the time.

According to information from police circles in Hong Kong, Wong now also has to answer for "subversion". This means that his case will be negotiated according to the provisions of the Security Act and he cannot expect a provisional parole. Wong was sentenced to 13.5 months in prison in early December for participating in mass protests in 2019.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab condemned the arrests in Hong Kong as a "serious attack" on the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong citizens.

The latest developments showed "clearly and unequivocally" that China has taken control of Hong Kong, said Dylan Loah of the Nanyang Technical University in Singapore. The Chinese government charged those arrested with attempting to win a majority for the opposition in Hong Kong elections. From Beijing's point of view, this would have resulted in an "overthrow" and a "blockade" of the government in Hong Kong.

Wong and two other defendants were sentenced to prison terms in early December for their involvement in the 2019 mass protests. Wong's comrades-in-arms Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam were sentenced to ten and seven months in prison, respectively. The well-known activists were on trial over a protest rally outside Hong Kong police headquarters in June 2019.

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