Hong Kong authorities charge 47 with subversion under security law

Hong Kong police detain 47 pro-democracy activists on subversion charges

Hong Kong police detain 47 pro-democracy activists on subversion charges

The Hong Kong government charged 47 democracy advocates Sunday with violating a national security law that prohibits "conspiracy to commit subversion".

The legislative election that would have followed the unofficial primaries was postponed by a year by Lam, who cited public health risks during the coronavirus pandemic.

They said the group was made up of 39 men and 8 women, aged between 23 and 64, and that they will appear in court on Monday. He told reporters after having his bail extended Sunday that he was asked to report to the police again in early May.

Authorities didn't charge American lawyer John Clancey, who was involved in the primary and was among those arrested in January.

The national security law carries sentences as long as life in prison depending on the severity of the offense, and has been criticized by lawyers, rights groups and worldwide governments as a violation of Beijing's promise to respect Hong Kong's freedoms and "high degree of autonomy". Many democracy activists have fled the city since the law was introduced.

Some chanted slogans including "Release all political prisoners" and "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" the latter a slogan authorities say is now illegal under the new security law.

Anyone who fails to take the oath - or is deemed to have done so in an insincere fashion - would be immediately disqualified from office and banned from running in elections for the next five years, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang said.

The spokesperson noted China upholds the rule of law and that the handling of the case by Hong Kong judicial authorities is in line with the law and brooks no distortion or discredit.

"It's really sad that Hong Kong has degenerated to this stage", said one of the politicians, on the electoral reform."We're handing Hong Kong over to the next generation in a worse state than we inherited it".

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"Charges against 47 pro-democrat is of great concern to #EU".

It said: "The nature of these charges makes clear that legitimate political pluralism will no longer be tolerated in Hong Kong".

"The EU urges Hong Kong and Beijing authorities to abide by their commitments to fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, as enshrined in the Basic Law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights".

"This is a very strong signal from President Xi [Jinping] that he wants to eradicate the whole pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong", exiled activist Sunny Cheung, who had himself taken part in the primary election, told Reuters by phone. At the time of the Hong Kong vote, the United States Democratic primary, which Biden won, was still ongoing.

Those also called in by Hong Kong police include a group of younger "resistance camp" pro-democracy activists including Lester Shum, Sam Cheung, Ventus Lau, and Fergus Leung.

Authorities have said that campaigning to win a majority in Hong Kong's 70-seat Legislative Council, with the objective of blocking government proposals to ramp up pressure for democratic reforms, could be seen as subversive.

Joshua Wong, one of the city's most recognisable pro-democracy figures, was among those charged, visited by police inside prison where he is now serving a sentence for organising protests in 2019. In Hong Kong, the chief executive has to resign if the budget is rejected by the legislature twice.

Beijing is battling to stamp out dissent in semi-autonomous Hong Kong after swathes of the population hit the streets in 2019 in huge and sometimes violent democracy demonstrations.

On Sunday, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described the charges as "deeply disturbing".

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