Thu, Apr 27, 2017 - Page 1 News List

HK arrests disqualified lawmakers

AP, HONG KONG

Hong Kong police yesterday arrested two pro-independence lawmakers who were disqualified in a dispute over their oaths, in the latest round of legal action against people involved in the territory’s pro-democracy movement.

Sixtus “Baggio” Leung (梁頌恆) and Yau Wai-ching (游蕙禎) of the Youngspiration party were arrested and questioned at a police station for several hours before being released on bail.

They told reporters that they were charged with unlawful assembly and attempted forcible entry and must report to court tomorrow.

The two young activists angered Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed government when they used their swearing-in ceremony in October last year to stage an apparent protest by inserting anti-China comments into their oaths.

Their attempts to enter the legislature during subsequent sessions to take their oaths properly descended into chaos when they were barred from the chamber while awaiting a court ruling, which later disqualified them from office.

Leung and Yau were part of a new wave of lawmakers advocating greater separation from the mainland who were newly elected to office last year amid a rising tide of anti-China sentiment in Hong Kong, where fears are rising that Beijing is tightening its grip on the semiautonomous territory. Three former assistants were also arrested.

Leung said the charges, which relate to events on Nov. 2 last year, were “ridiculous.”

On that day, they scuffled with guards as they barged into the chamber, leaving the council session in disarray.

“We were still lawmakers at that time when we wanted to get into the chamber. Why is it unlawful?” he said.

The two said the charges were politically motivated.

“We are not afraid of this suppression and we will persist in our beliefs,” Yau said.

The Hong Kong government is pursuing cases against a number of other activists.

Last month police arrested nine people, including university professors, former student leaders and lawmakers, on public nuisance charges for their involvement in the “Umbrella movement” protests.

The 79-day movement ended more than two years ago after protesters failed to win concessions over electoral curbs.

The government is also trying to disqualify four other pro-democracy lawmakers who it says took their oaths improperly.

Individual cases include another lawmaker charged earlier this month with desecrating the Chinese and Hong Kong flags after he inverted flags on the desks of pro-government members during a chamber session last year.

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