Police arrest three Hong Kong democracy activists

Tension rises in the Chinese territory as two other activists are attacked and march is banned
Police arrest three Hong Kong democracy activists

Demosisto members Nathan Law (left), Joshua Wong (center) and Agnes Chow speak to the media in Hong Kong on June 18. Wong and Chow were arrested by police on Aug. 30 as authorities stifle dissent. (Photo by Anthony Wallace/AFP)

Hong Kong democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Andy Chan have been arrested as the political crisis deepens in the Chinese-ruled territory.

Wong, 22, was pushed into a private minivan on the street around 7.30 a.m. local time on Aug. 30 and taken to police headquarters in Wan Chai, his political party Demosisto said on its official Twitter account.

Chow, 22, one of Demosisto's leading members, was arrested at home about the same time and taken to the same police station, the party added. 

Police said Wong and Chow had been arrested on suspicion of "inciting others to take part in unauthorised assembly" among other charges.

Chan, 28, the leader of the banned pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, was arrested on Aug. 29 at Hong Kong airport as he prepared to fly to Japan. He faces charges of suspicion of rioting and assaulting a police officer.

The three arrests came ahead of another weekend of planned protests in Hong Kong, which is facing its biggest political crisis since its handover from Britain to Beijing more than two decades ago.

Wong became the face of Hong Kong's push for full democracy during the 2014 Occupy Central movement protests that paralyzed the city for 79 days. He was released from jail in June after serving a five-week term for contempt of court.

Wong's arrest was related to the protests on June 21 when he called on protesters to surround the police headquarters in Wan Chai, near the Legislative Council complex, according to broadcaster TVB.

The arrests follow an increase in hostility toward democracy activists.

Jimmy Sham, the leader of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), which has organized several massive rallies in recent months, was reportedly attacked by two armed masked men in a Kowloon restaurant on Aug. 29. He was not injured but a friend was taken to hospital with severe bruising.

Max Chung, another prominent democracy activist, also reported being attacked by unknown assailants.

A march due to be held by the CHRF on Aug. 31 has been banned by police. The protest was due to mark five years since Beijing ruled out universal suffrage for Hong Kong.

Police said on Aug. 28 that 900 people have been arrested since protests began in early June, triggered by a controversial extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts.

With the bill now suspended, the rallies have evolved into a broader pro-democracy movement demanding democratic reform and an investigation into alleged police brutality.

China brought fresh troops into Hong Kong on Aug. 29 in what state media described as a routine rotation of the garrison.

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Asian and Western diplomats watching the People's Liberation Army forces in the former British colony had been expecting it.

Chinese soldiers stationed in Hong Kong are not there merely for symbolic purposes and they will have "no reason to sit on their hands" if the situation in the city worsens, an editorial in the China Daily newspaper said on Aug. 30.

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