Roundup: Hong Kong police arrest 53 people suspected of violating national security law
A total of 53 people were arrested during a police operation Wednesday on suspicion of committing crimes including subversion under the national security law in Hong Kong.
They included riot instigator Benny Tai, former opposition lawmakers Wu Chi-wai, Lam Cheuk-ting, James To and Alvin Yeung. They are arrested for their involvement in the so-called "primary election" last year, according to local media.
Ahead of the Legislative Council election of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, originally scheduled in September 2020, Tai and others organized the so-called opposition "primary poll" in July, using the "referendum" as a cover to rally public opinion and campaign for the opposition. Such acts blatantly interfered in the election and defied the Basic Law and the national security law in Hong Kong.
Senior superintendent Steve Li from the police force's national security department said the police took action specifically targeting active players who organized, planned, committed or participated in acts of subversion. The arrestees included 45 men and eight women, aged between 23 to 64, among which six were organizers and the 47 participants.
Secretary for Security of the HKSAR government John Lee said those arrested planned to paralyze the HKSAR government with a vicious plan. If succeeded, the society, economy and people's livelihood will be severely hindered and undermined, and Hong Kong will face again a turbulent situation or even unimaginable catastrophe.
Lee said the operation does not involve people who played a passive role or only voted in the so-called "primary election."
The HKSAR government said that it will not tolerate any offense of subversion and will combat such offense with full efforts in accordance with the law.
The Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR said it firmly supports the Hong Kong police's law enforcement action against those violating national security law in Hong Kong and also firmly supports the solemn statement of the HKSAR government to safeguard national security.
The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR voiced strong support for Hong Kong police in arresting Benny Tai and others, saying it firmly supports Hong Kong police in performing their duties and cracking down on any act that endangers national security in accordance with the law.
The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong expressed its support for the police operation. Lawmaker Holden Chow said the so-called "primary election" is an intentional and purposeful attempt to undermine the central government's exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, which is in clear violation of the national security law.
The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions believes that the police operation of arrest is "necessary and timely".
Lau Siu-kai, vice chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said the arrest operation by the Hong Kong police only targets the so-called "primary election" rather than the opposition.