3 ex-lawmakers arrested in Hong Kong
Hong Kong, Nov 18 (efe-epa).- Police have arrested three former Hong Kong lawmakers for interrupting parliamentary sessions in May and June, the detainees said on Wednesday, as the government maintains pressure against the beleaguered opposition in the city.
Police have accused the former opposition legislators, Eddie Chu, Raymond Chan, and Ted Hui, of throwing foul-smelling objects in the Legislative Council, the politicians said on their social media accounts.
Hui said police charged him with contempt of the parliament during a debate on a controversial bill that makes insulting China’s national anthem a criminal offense.
On May 28, Hui brought a brownish foul-smelling substance into the legislative chamber in front of Legislative Council Chairman Andrew Leung.
Chan and Chu indulged in a similar episode on June 4.
The opposition claimed then that the objects included a bio-fertilizer and a rotten plant that was thrown by the lawmakers in protest.
Despite their attempts to interrupt the third reading of the amendment of the bill, the Hong Kong legislature ended up passing the controversial bill on June 4.
The law states anyone deliberately insulting China’s “March of the Volunteers” could be punished with fines of up to HK$50,000 ($6,450) or up to three years in prison.
On June 16, the authorities slapped Hui with a fine of HK$52,000 while Chan and Chu were asked to pay around HK$100,000 each for carpet cleaning and changing charges.
Pro-democracy legislators, as well as thousands of protesters, have expressed their opposition to the new law, which they believe violates freedom of expression and is not the proper way to get people to respect the Chinese national anthem.
The arrests follow the recent expulsions and resignations of pro-democracy lawmakers from the Legislative Council amid a rapid deterioration of the freedoms that set Hong Kong apart from mainland China thanks to a retrocession treaty signed between Beijing and London in 1984.
The 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which articulated Hong Kong’s handover from British to Chinese hands in 1997, established a legally binding treaty whereby Hong Kong’s freedoms and autonomy had to safeguard for at least 50 years from that date. EFE-EPA