Hong Kong, Dec 8 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong Police arrested eight people on Tuesday over an alleged illegal protest march in July against the controversial national security law.
Police officers knocked on the door of the homes of the suspects early in the morning.
The detained include ex chairperson of Democratic Party Wu Chi-wai, former lawmakers and activists Leung Kwok-hung and Chu Hoi-dick, veteran activist Tsang Kin-shing and district councilors Andy Choi and Lancelot Chan.
At least six of them – including Wu, Leung and Chu – were released on bail in the afternoon, the activists wrote in their social media posts. The others will have to go to court for hearing on Dec. 17.
Police arrested them on suspicion of organizing and participating in an unauthorized assembly on July 1.
Thousands of people on that day took to the streets, protesting against the national security law, which took effect hours before. About 370 people were detained by the police then.
People found guilty of violating the law, which punishes acts, including secession and collusion with foreign forces, could face life imprisonment.
The arrest on Tuesday came hours after the United States announced on Monday financial sanctions and a travel ban on 14 high-ranking officials in China’s top lawmaking body over its enforcement of the national security law in the semi-autonomous city.
Since its imposition on June 30, there have been numerous police raids and arrests of pro-democracy activists, some of whom have chosen to go into exile to try to avoid reprisals for activities that, under the new legislation, could constitute a crime.
On Monday morning, eight others were arrested by police in connection with a protest march at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Nov 19.
Three of those arrested on Monday are suspected of having violated the controversial security law by having “incited secession.”
In a statement earlier, Amnesty International called the arrests a “blatant attack on human rights.”
“Chanting political slogans, singing songs and waving flags should never be crimes,” the rights groups Hong Kong director Lam Cho Ming said, adding that the arrests highlight “the deterioration of human rights in Hong Kong since the national security law was enacted.”
“The people involved in this small protest were merely expressing their views peacefully, but this is now treated as a crime as the Hong Kong and central Chinese authorities seek to crush all forms of dissent.” EFE-EPA