Four individuals, all believed to be students, have been detained in what are believed to be the first arrests made under Hong Kong’s new security law.
The four individuals, three males and one female, aged 16 to 21, were held on suspicion of inciting secession through social media posts.
A stringent new security law, imposed by China, took effect in Hong Kong last month.
“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 new unit just formed to enforce the law.
Authorities did not identify the suspects or the organization they belong to. Li described it only as an independence movement.
“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.”
Li warned anyone who thinks they can raise such movements online to think twice.
An organization called Studentlocalism wrote on Facebook that four former members had been arrested on secession charges, including ex-leader Tony Chung.
The arrests came one day after a leading political opposition figure in Hong Kong, Benny Tai, was fired from his university post.
Hong Kong University’s council voted 18-2 to fire Tai from his position as an associate law professor.
Tai has been out on bail since being sentenced to 16 months in prison last year. He, along with 8 other leaders, were put on trial for their roles in the 2014 democracy protests that have become broadly known as the Umbrella Movement.
“If we continue in our persistence, we will definitely see the revival of the rule of law in Hong Kong one day,” Tai wrote on Facebook yesterday.
The Chinese government’s liaison office in Hong Kong said Tai’s firing was “a punishment for evil doing.”
Photo by Iris Tong