HONG KONG: Prominent Hong Kong democracy activists including a lawmaker were arrested Friday in a protest crackdown — a move described by rights groups as a well-worn tactic deployed by China to suffocate dissent ahead of key political events.
The sweep comes after a major rally planned for Saturday was banned by police on security grounds, and then called off by the organizers.
The latest protest had been due to mark the fifth anniversary of Beijing’s rejection of a call for universal suffrage in the semi-autonomous city, sparking the 79-day Umbrella Movement in 2014.
Hong Kong has been locked in three months of political crisis, with increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters that have prompted an escalating intimidation campaign from China.
Two of the Umbrella Movement’s leaders, Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow — both still well-regarded among the city’s youth — appeared in court accused of “inciting others to take part in unauthorized assembly” among other charges, having been arrested in dawn swoops on Friday.