Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers arrested as tensions soar

Hong Kong's legislature is quasi-democratic, with half the seats popularly elected and the rest chosen by largely pro-Beijing committees.

Published: 09th November 2019 01:50 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th November 2019 01:50 PM   |  A+A-

Protesters rest on a bridge in Hong Kong, early Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019.

Protesters rest on a bridge in Hong Kong, early Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police said Saturday they have arrested three pro-democracy lawmakers over a brawl in parliament, deepening the city's crisis a day after the death of a student sent tensions soaring.

The international finance hub has been upended by five months of huge and increasingly violent pro-democracy protests but Beijing has refused to give in to most of the movement's demands.

With the city bracing for a 24th consecutive weekend of rallies, police brought charges against three key pro-democracy lawmakers while four other lawmakers said they had been ordered to attend a police station later Saturday to be booked.

They face up to a year in jail if convicted.

The charges relate to chaotic scenes that broke out within a legislative committee in May as pro-democracy lawmakers tried to stop a controversial bill being discussed that would allow extraditions to authoritarian mainland China.

At the time, city leader Carrie Lam was fast-tracking the bill through the legislature, a move that went on to ignite record-breaking street protests in which millions marched.

"The protests that have been going on for five months are yet to finish but the government is already launching massive arrests of pro-democracy legislators in collaboration with the police," the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

One of the lawmakers said he would refuse to turn himself in.

"If you are accusing me of violating laws in the Legislative Council, come here and arrest me. I will be right here waiting," Lam Cheuk-ting told reporters at a joint press conference.

Hong Kong's legislature is quasi-democratic, with half the seats popularly elected and the rest chosen by largely pro-Beijing committees, ensuring the chamber remains stacked with government loyalists.

Opposition to the government comes in the form of a small band of pro-democracy lawmakers who win their seats in local elections.

The lack of fully free elections -- and especially the fact that the city's leader is appointed by a pro-Beijing committee -- has fuelled years of protests that have culminated in the latest unrest.

The tinderbox atmosphere intensified on Friday after 22-year-old student Alex Chow died from a fall during recent clashes with police.

Although the precise chain of events leading to his fall are unclear and disputed, protesters have made alleged police brutality one of their movement's rallying cries and have seized on the death.

Thousands attended candlelight vigils on Friday evening while police fought cat and mouse battles with flashmob protesters who blocked roads, burned barricades and vandalised subway station entrances in multiple neighbourhoods.

In one incident, an officer fired a live warning shot as his unit faced off with protesters throwing projectiles.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp