Hong Kong police rounded up at least 15 veterans and supporters of the opposition camp in a swoop on Saturday that netted, among others, media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and prominent barrister Martin Lee Chu-ming for their roles in unlawful protests late last year, South China Morning Post reported.
While opposition politicians have been included among the thousands of protest-related arrests over the past year, rarely have so many prominent pro-democracy figures been arrested at once, The New York Times commented.
The arrests of the 15 were for their roles in the protests in August and October that were part of an anti-government movement that was sparked by the aborted extradition bill.
Former EU Special Envoy for Religious Freedom Jan Figel’ immediately wrote to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Parliament’s David Sassoli calling on the EU to act immediately in defense of the human rights of the arrested.
“The arrest of these individuals amount to an outrageous assault on Hong Kong’s freedoms, the rule of law and autonomy guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. I had the privilege of meeting Martin Lee last year, and I know that none of these individuals arrested could in any way remotely be regarded as radicals or ‘rioters’ – indeed they are highly-respected internationally-renowned establishment politicians known for their commitment to the rule of law, peaceful protest, democratic engagement and basic freedoms,” Figel’s wrote in the letter addressed to the top management of the EU Institutions.
Jan Figel in his role as EU Special Envoy for Religious Freedom outside the EU met one of the major opposition figure Martin Lee in Fatima (Portugal) in August 2019.
“This is a clearly political prosecution, which follows a growing number of similar cases,” he also added. “It is essential that the European Union speak out strongly and urgently and call on the authorities to drop the charges against these 15 individuals,” Figel’s concluded.