Aug. 26 (UPI) — Police in Hong Kong arrested two opposition lawmakers on Wednesday in a sweep of those accused of participating in riots last July.
Democratic Party legislators Lam Cheuk Ting and Ted Hui Chi Fung announced their arrests on Facebook.
Lam said police arrived at his residence at 6 a.m. and arrested him on charges of being involved in demonstrations on July 21, 2019, when pro-democracy protesters were attacked by a mob of white-shirted men wielding weapons in a subway station. Dozens, including Lam, were injured in the attack that police were criticized for turning a blind eye to while activists accused them of colluding with the attackers.
Lam said he was also charged with conspiracy to destroy property and obstruction of justice concerning protests outside a police station earlier that month.
Hui said he was arrested at his home that was searched by three police officers.
Local newspaper South China Morning Post and the BBC, citing unnamed police sources, said the two politicians were among 16 arrested Wednesday morning in connection to the July protests.
Wu Chi-wai, chairman of the Democratic Party, said that his party condemns the “indiscriminate arrests” of its lawmakers and were “deeply surprised by this false accusation.”
“What was even more shocking was that Lam Cheuk Ting has changed from a victim to a defendant,” he said in a statement on Facebook, accusing the police of abusing its power while doing nothing in the past year to arrest those who attacked the protesters or to clear suspicious of their involvement.
“The democrats reiterate that the abuse of power will not help solve Hong Kong’s difficulties, and they call on those in power to change their ways,” he said.
Earlier this month, police in Hong Kong arrested media tycoon Jimmy Lai and eight others including former politician Nathan Law and prominent pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow under a controversial national security law that Beijing imposed in July.
Amnesty International Hong Kong condemned the arrests Wednesday, accusing the Hong Kong government of “weaponizing the law to persecute dissidents.”
“No one should be targeted with violence for exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly,” the rights group said in a statement on Twitter. “The Hong Kong authorities should bring to justice the real perpetrators of violence at Yuen Long MTR, rather than using the incident as a pretext to arrest political opponents.”
It was unclear if Lam and Hui were arrested under the national security law that has been widely condemned by human rights organizations and Western nations.
The draconian law, which criminalizes acts in Hong Kong that threaten the national security of China, was imposed following a year of pro-democracy protests in the former British colony.