Hong Kong pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong arrested amid crackdown - Josh Loe

Hong Kong pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong arrested amid crackdown

Pro-democracy leader and Demosisto secretary-general Joshua Wong was arrested in Hong Kong on Friday morning while he was walking to a train station in the city’s south, the group tweeted on Friday.

According to pro-democracy advocacy group, Wong was arrested at around 7:30 a.m. local time while on his way to the South Horizons station, and was “forcefully pushed” into a minivan. Wong was arrested on three charges, Demosisto told the BBC, though police have not released what those charges are.

Wong emerged as a leading voice in pro-democracy protests in 2014 during the city’s “Umbrella Movement,” which called for fair and free elections in the city. The student leader was one of 78 people arrested for his role in the 2014 protests when he was just 17-years-old, and he has been detained on several more occasions for his political activism.

Wong co-founded Demosisto in 2016, which briefly served as a political party and gained one seat in the city’s Legislative Council before its lone lawmaker, Nathan Law, was disqualified.

Now 22, Wong was most recently released from prison on June 17 as anti-extraditions protests in the city began to intensify.

Wong’s arrest is part of an apparent crackdown on pro-democracy leaders

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong (C) speaks to members of the media outside the Legislative Council building following a press conference by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on June 18, 2019 in Hong Kong.
Carl Court/Getty Images

Wong’s arrest comes amid an apparent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and leaders as the city enters its 12th week of anti-government demonstrations.

Agnes Chow, another Demosisto member, was also arrested on Friday morning, the group tweeted. Demosisto said she was being sent to Wan Chai police headquarters, where Wong is currently being held. According to Hong Kong Free Press, she was arrested in her home in Tai Po on Friday morning.

Wong and Chow were scheduled to travel to Washington next month to participate in a Congressional Executive Committee on China hearing on a bipartisan-supported bill called the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which aims to punish government officials in Hong Kong and China deemed responsible for suppressing human rights in the city.

Her arrest comes a day after the arrest of Andy Chan, the leader of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party which was banned in 2018 on national security grounds.

According to Hong Kong Free Press, Chan was detained Thursday evening while trying to board a flight to Japan. A police spokesperson told the Press that he was arrested on suspicion of rioting and assaulting a police officer, though the activist told the Press that his detention had been requested by Hong Kong police.

Pro-democracy leaders have also been attacked in broad daylight by pro-Beijing assailants in recent days.

Jimmy Sham, a peaceful protest organizer for the Civil Human Rights Front, was also attacked on Thursday afternoon while eating lunch at a restaurant with a friend by two masked men armed with a baseball bat and a knife, according to Amnesty International.

Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said in a statement that pro-democracy activists were being “deliberately targeted” and encouraged police to launch an investigation.

“The repeated harassment of pro-democracy activists, combined with police bans on demonstrations, has created a climate of fear for peaceful protesters. It is vital that the authorities send a clear message that those who target peaceful activists with such violence, irrespective of their political views, will face justice.”

Hong Kong police have banned plans for a peaceful march on Saturday organized by the Civil Human Rights Front, citing concerns that protests may turn violent.

According to Bloomberg, 891 people have been arrested since wide-scale protests began on June 9.

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