Hong Kong, Nov 2 (efe-epa).- The Hong Kong Police arrested at least eight opposition lawmakers and former lawmakers between Sunday and Monday on charges of contempt and obstruction of the work of officers during a heated exchange with pro-Beijing legislators for the chairmanship of a key committee in May.
Four Democratic Party lawmakers – including its chairman Wu Chi-wai -, two from Labour Party, and another two former legislators from the pro-democracy group were arrested on the above charges.
The eight people were released on bail and are expected to appear before a judge on Thursday.
The police said that “arrest operation is still in progress, we do not rule out the possibility that more people may be arrested,” according to local news portal Hong Kong Free Press.
On May 8, seven opposition lawmakers were expelled from the Hong Kong Legislative Council following a heated debate over who should head the House Committee, a formation which reviews bills before putting them up for a final vote.
Beijing then accused the pro-democracy faction of “malicious filibustering” and paralyzing the council after the House Committee – which held 16 meetings chaired by Dennis Kwok of the Civic Party – failed to elect a new president.
The incidents took place amid protests in opposition to a controversial extradition bill – already withdrawn – which, according to lawyers and activists, could have allowed Beijing to gain access to refugees in the former British colony.
Since June 2019, hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in these protests in which several people were severely injured in clashes between radical groups and the security forces, whom the protesters accused of abuse of power to rein in the demonstrations.
Numerous activists and prominent figures in the pro-democracy movement have been detained or fined since the protests began last year.
With the emergence of the coronavirus crisis and the consequent preventive measures, protests have been losing steam, especially since Jun. 30, when Beijing imposed a controversial national security law on the island that provides for even life imprisonment for charges related to secession or collusion with foreign forces.
This law, which has been criticized by the international community, also imposes punishments for activities such as the dissemination of messages in support of the independence of the territory. EFE-EPA