In response to Hong Kong law enforcement arresting more than a dozen prominent pro-democracy activists and former legislators on Saturday, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) immediately issued a press release denouncing the authoritarian tactics. In addition to dropping all of the charges against the activists, CPJ demanded that Hong Kong authorities cease their “repeated harassment” against the pro-democracy leaders.
At least 14 activists, former legislators, and a media tycoon were arrested Saturday for their participation in massive anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong last year. The demonstrations successfully protested against proposed extradition legislation that would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be sent to mainland China to stand trial.
On Saturday, police arrested founder and chair of Next Digital, Jimmy Lai, former lawmaker and activist Martin Lee, and at least 12 other pro-democracy advocates on suspicion of participating in the illegal assemblies on August 18 and October 20, 2019, according to news reports.
“The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about the arrest of 14 prominent pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong, including Apple Daily media founder Jimmy Lai,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, in a recent press release. “Hong Kong authorities should end their repeated harassment of Jimmy Lai and drop all charges against him.”
“This is not the rule of law. This is what authoritarian governments do,” Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last colonial governor, told The New York Times. “It becomes ever more clear, week by week and day by day, that Beijing is determined to throttle Hong Kong. The world should make clear how this further undermines any residual trust that we still have in the Chinese Communist dictatorship.”
Since June 2019, more than 7,000 demonstrators have been arrested in Hong Kong for protesting against government suppression and a concerning lack of police accountability.