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24.09.2020 Asia

EU denounces 'troubling' arrest of Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong

By Jan van der Made with RFI
EU denounces 'troubling' arrest of Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong
LISTEN SEP 24, 2020

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong has been taken into police custody over charges of participating in an "unlawful assembly" in October 2019. The European Union condemned the arrest, saying it undermined trust in China. 

"The arrest of Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong on 24 September is the latest in a troubling series of arrests of pro-democracy activists since the summer," an EU spokesperson said, calling for "very careful scrutiny" by the judiciary.

"Developments in Hong Kong call into question China's will to uphold its international commitments, undermine trust and impact EU-China relations."

EU leaders have repeatedly expressed concern at Hong Kong's new security law, which critics say undermines important rights on the island.

Wong tweeted that he was arrested when he reported to the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's Central Police Station as part of a bail requirement. 

He said he was also accused of violating a pre-coronavirus law banning the wearing of masks in public places on the pretext they obscure identity, the "Prohibition of Face Covering Regulation," issued in October 2019.

Ironically, Wong was obliged to wear a mask as a result of Covid-19 restrictions when spoke with reporters after leaving the police station. He said it is the third case against him and vowed to continue to resist. 

Wong rose to prominence as a student leader during the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests for universal suffrage, and is among a growing number of activists being charged for various relatively minor offenses since Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the territory that has severely restricted political speech. 

He played a low-key role in mostly leaderless and sometimes violent anti-government protests last year that led to Beijing imposing the security law.

However, with China's encouragement, Hong Kong authorities have been pursuing charges against major opposition figures for illegal assembly and other minor infractions in what some call a campaign to harass and intimidate.

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