Hong Kong rounds up pro-democracy activists

Hong Kong rounds up pro-democracy activists

Police arrest more than 50 campaigners and politicians under its national-security law

THE HARSH national-security law which China imposed on Hong Kong in June once relied more on its bark than its bite. During its first few months in force, only 35 people were arrested under the bill, which criminalises acts such as secession and colluding with a foreign power. The picture changed dramatically on January 6th when police officers arrested 53 pro-democracy politicians and activists—including former legislators such as James To, Alvin Yeung and Andrew Wan—and charged them with subversion.

Those rounded up had stood for election in, or helped to run, an unofficial “primary” ballot to choose candidates for legislative elections that had been scheduled for last September. More than 600,000 Hong Kongers—around 8% of the population—voted in five constituencies. (The legislative polls were later postponed for a year; Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, blamed the covid-19 epidemic, although many thought that a convenient excuse.)

In a separate operation, police also arrested John Clancey, an American human-rights lawyer. Mr Clancey, an outspoken critic of the attack on Hong Kongers’ freedoms, is the first foreign national to be apprehended under the law.