Protesters throng central Hong Kong on June 16, 2019, in a protest against an extradition bill. Police have arrested 15 pro-democracy activists over the mass protests that rocked the former British colony last year. (Photo: UCA News)
The Catholic Church in Hong Kong has demanded an end to a police crackdown on pro-democracy activists, calling it political repression of those demanding democratic rights in the China-administered region.
Hong Kong police on April 18 arrested 15 pro-democracy activists including several former legislators for their alleged role in the mass protests that rocked the former British colony last year. They were all released on bail the same day but face court proceedings on May 18.The Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong Diocese in a statement said the arrests in the city-state, which functions under the Chinese communist regime, was part of "political repression."It said the administration must stop all arrests until the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry and a report has been issued by this commission.Police have arrested about 7,000 people in connection with riots and violence since pro-democracy protests began in Hong Kong in June 2019. Most arrested were young students.
UK-based rights group Hong Kong Watch said the arrests were "politically motivated."The arrests "represent a concerted effort by the Chinese Communist Party to use the world's focus on the Covid-19 pandemic to strangle dissent in the city," the group said in an April 18 statement.The arrests come after several months of relative calm amid a partial coronavirus lockdown.However, many suspect they were part of the Chinese communist regime's aim to stifle legislative elections in Hong Kong due in September.Claudia Mo, a Democratic legislator, who was not among those arrested, said the Hong Kong government headed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam was trying to introduce "a ring of terror" in Hong Kong. "They are doing whatever they can to try to silence, to take down, the local opposition," she said.The latest police move also follows Beijing's effort to assert its role in Hong Kong.Hong Kong's constitution, called the Basic Law, restricts Beijing from interfering in local affairs. However, Beijing's top office in Hong Kong has maintained that it was not bound by Hong Kong's laws and had the right to "supervise" how the "one country, two systems" principle is being implemented.China has refused to accept the protesters' demands, which include free polls in the city of more than seven million people.