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Activist arrested for demonstrating two years ago

Charge seen as a ploy to derail Hong Kong's upcoming 'Occupy' protest

Activist arrested for demonstrating two years ago

Democracy activists say the number of political detentions in Hong Kong is rising (AFP photo by Philippe Lopez) reporter, Hong Kong

May 9, 2013

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A volunteer with the ‘Occupy Central’ movement was arrested on Wednesday for her part in a demonstration that took place nearly two years ago. Fellow activists say her arrest is politically motivated.

Melody Chan Yuk-fung, a trainee solicitor, will appear in court on Friday on charges of assisting the holding of an unauthorized assembly and taking part in the largest rally held in Hong Kong, on July 1, 2011.

No other charges have been made in connection with the demonstration since January last year.

The arrest comes ahead of deliberation day scheduled on June 9 to discuss the organization of Occupy Central, a mass protest scheduled to take place next year in Hong Kong's main business district. Observers have described the protest as a direct challenge to the authorities in Beijing, as the movement aims to push for universal suffrage.

Legal scholar Dr Benny Tai Yiu-ting, architect of the demonstrations, announced in March that Occupy Central will continue into next summer should Beijing fail to fulfill a vague promise to initiate meaningful democratic reforms.

“The government wants to create an atmosphere of terror,” Baptist Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, one of three head organizers of the movement, said in a live radio program on Thursday.

He predicted further political arrests ahead of next month’s rally, adding that last year marked the highest number of political arrests in the territory, 440, since the handover to China in 1997.

“Instead of immediate action, the time taken for police to arrest and then charge some demonstrators has ranged from six months to almost two years at this time,” said Chu. “It shows how much abuse the police force is using.”

A poll found that 70 percent of people in Hong Kong were against the Occupy movement, while the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported that Church leaders were divided.

The movement is named after the anti-capitalist demonstrations of the same name in Western cities, including New York and London, in 2011.

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