4 arrested under new Hong Kong security law for online posts

4 arrested under new Hong Kong security law for online posts

4 arrested under new Hong Kong security law for online posts

Hong Kong police have signalled their intent to enforce a new Chinese national security law strictly, arresting four youths Wednesday on suspicion of inciting secession through social media posts.

Three males and one female, aged 16 to 21, were detained, a police official said at an 11 p.m. news conference. All are believed to be students.

“Our investigation showed that a group has recently announced on social media that they have set up an organization for Hong Kong independence,” said Li Kwai-wah, senior superintendent of a newly formed unit to enforce the security law.

The 1-month-old law has chilled pro-democracy protesting as activists along with academics and others wonder if their activities could be targeted.

The central government in Beijing imposed the national security law on the semi-autonomous Chinese territory after city leaders were unable to get one passed locally. The move has raised fears that Hong Kong’s freedoms and local autonomy are being taken away.

Police did not identify the suspects or their group. An organization called Studentlocalism — which announced it was disbanding just before the law took effect — said on Facebook that four former members had been arrested on secession charges, including ex-leader Tony Chung.

The police action appeared to target the Initiative Independence Party, which says on its Facebook page that it consists of former Studentlocalism members who have completed their studies and are overseas.

The party, which also posted the news of Wednesday’s arrests, advocates for independence because it believes full democracy for Hong Kong is impossible under Chinese rule, its Facebook page says.

Li said only that the group in question had set up recently and that the posts were made after the law took effect late on June 30.

“They said they want to establish a Hong Kong republic, and that they will unreservedly fight for it,” he said. “They also said they want to unite all pro-independence groups in Hong Kong for this purpose.”

He warned anyone who thinks they can carry out such crimes online to think twice.

Police have made a handful of other arrests under the new law, all of people taking part in protests and chanting slogans or waving flags deemed to violate the law.

China promised Hong Kong would have its own governing and legal systems under a “one country, two systems” principle until 2047, or 50 years after Britain handed back its former colony in 1997.

China, in justifying the new law, says issues such as separatism are a national security concern and, as such, fall under its purview.

The latest arrests came one day after a leading figure in Hong Kong’s political opposition was fired from his university post.

Hong Kong University’s council voted 18-2 to oust Benny Tai from his position as an associate law professor, local media reported.

Tai has been out on bail since being sentenced to 16 months in prison in April 2019 as one of nine leaders put on trial for their part in 2014 protests for greater democracy known as the Umbrella Movement.

In a posting Wednesday on his Facebook account, Tai said he intended to continue writing and lecturing on legal issues and asked for public support.

“If we continue in our persistence, we will definitely see the revival of the rule of law in Hong Kong one day,” Tai wrote.

While the 2014 movement failed in its bid to expand democracy, protests returned last year over a legislative proposal that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to face trial in mainland China.

Although the legislation was eventually shelved, protester demands expanded to include calls for democratic change and an investigation into alleged police abuses. They grew increasingly violent in the second half of the year.

In a statement issued after the vote to remove Tai, the Chinese government’s liaison office in Hong Kong said it was “a punishment for evil doing.”

The Associated Press

Hong Kong

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

cat
Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler provides support through animal interaction

‘I also come from a family of doers - if something that is needed isn’t there, you just figure it out’

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta now has 17,743 active cases of COVID-19

Province now has 17,743 active cases

town
Town of Castor meeting highlights from the Nov. 23rd meeting

Castor’s town council has approved an interim budget going into 2021

county
The County of Paintearth Council has approved the 2021 operational and capital budgets

Capital spending approved for 2021 amounts to just over $3.8 million

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council squashes mask bylaw

The bylaw did not make it past first reading, after a 4-3 vote defeated the motion

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season’s top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Curling Canada has provisional approval for Calgary’s hub-city concept from Alberta Health

Most Read