Hong Kong arrests raise fears opposition's survival in question
The arrest of 53 government critics in Hong Kong, including pro-democracy politicians, has raised concerns about whether the territory's opposition can survive.
And it has instilled fear in many residents who say they are unsure what is legal and what illegal.
Al Jazeera's Adrian Brown reports from Hong Kong.
The UN human rights office (OHCHR) today (07 Jan) voiced deep concerns over the arrests of over 50 individuals under the new National Security Law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, and called for their immediate release.
Fifty-three political activists, academics, former legislators, current district councilors, and lawyers, were arrested on Wednesday, according to the office.
Liz Throssell, OHCHR spokesperson, said that the arrests were the latest in a series of detentions related to the exercise of fundamental freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly, in Hong Kong.
SOUNDBITE (English) Liz Throssell, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): "We are deeply concerned about the arrests on Wednesday of 53 political activists, academics, former legislators, current district councillors, and lawyers in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and we call for their immediate release. These latest arrests indicate that - as had been feared - the offence of subversion under the National Security Law is indeed being used to detain individuals for exercising legitimate rights to participate in political and public life. The UN Human Rights Office and independent UN human rights experts have repeatedly warned that offences such as subversion under the National Security Law, which was passed in June 2020, are vague and overly broad, facilitating abusive or arbitrary implementation. Yesterday's arrests were the latest in a series of detentions related to the exercise of fundamental freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly, in Hong Kong. We stress that exercise of the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly and through freely chosen representatives, is a fundamental right protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is incorporated into Hong Kong's Basic Law. We call on the authorities to uphold their obligations under the International Covenant, and to refrain from using the National Security Law to suppress the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. We also urge the authorities to guarantee the right to freedom of expression in the context of ongoing investigations, including by allowing journalists and news organisations to fully and freely exercise their legitimate functions."
OHCHR and independent UN human rights experts have repeatedly warned that offences such as subversion under the National Security Law, passed in June 2020, are vague and overly broad, facilitating abusive or arbitrary implementation. The family of a man detained in mainland China after fleeing Hong Kong by boat believes a letter he sent was written under duress.
The mother of Wong Wai Yin told Sky News that the family had received a letter from him on 20 November.
He was arrested in January on charges of making explosives in connection with the 2019 protests, and was awaiting trial when he fled along with 11 other people. #China said on Wednesday it supports Hong Kong authorities in the fulfilment of their duties after #HongKong police arrested 53 people in a swoop on pro-democracy #activists. A 15-year-old girl is believed to have become the youngest Hong Kong protester ever to seek asylum in the UK. Called "Aurora," she joins a growing list of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists fleeing the territory in the wake of Beijing's increased crackdown on dissidents. But how open are the UK and other countries to accepting such asylum claims from Hong Kong protesters?