Church demands end to Bejing pro-democracy arrests

The Catholic Church in Hong Kong is demanding an end to a police harrassment of pro-democracy activists.

The Church says the political repression of those demanding democratic rights in the China-administered region is wrong.

Hong Kong police arrested 15 pro-democracy activists last weekend, including former legislators because of their roles in Hong Kong’s mass protests last year.

They have all released on bail but will appear in court on 16 May.

The Hong Kong diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission says the arrests in the city-state, which functions under the Chinese communist regime, was part of “political repression.”

All arrests should be stopped until an independent commission of inquiry and its subsequent report has been issued, the Justice and Peace Commission says.

So far, Police have arrested about 7,000 people in connection with riots and violence since the pro-democracy protests began last June.

Most are young students.

However, the latest arrests included former legislators, including 81-year-old Martin Lee, a former barrister, legislator and founder of the Democratic Party.

The Justice and Peace Commission has asked the government to repeal the Public Order Ordinance.

This law, enacted during Hong Kong’s British colonial rule, considers more than three people gathering without Police permission as “unauthorized.”

The repealing of the 1967 law, which has been amended 26 times, is needed to “restore Hong Kong people’s freedom of procession and assembly,” the Justice and Peace Commission says.

It also asked police to “return the mobile phones of all arrested persons to ensure their privacy.”

The latest police move is considered the biggest crackdown on the pro-democracy movement since the anti-government protests started last June.

The pro-democracy activists were protesting against the now-scrapped extradition bill, which proposed sending suspects to mainland China for trial.

Democracy activists saw the bill as the latest of a series of moves that were shrinking their democratic rights.

An official of the Security Bureau told media that they acted after an investigation proved that the arrested people had violated the law because they organized and participated in unlawful gatherings.

All people are equal before the law and no one can break the law without facing the consequences, he says.

Many activists suspect the arrests are part of the Chinese communist regime’s aim to stifle this September’s legislative elections.

“They are doing whatever they can to try to silence, to take down, the local opposition,” one says.

The US, Britain and Australia have condemned the arrests.


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