A Catholic lawyer says his arrest last Saturday is part of mainland China’s wide-ranging efforts to tighten control over Hong Kong.
His ordeal follows his participation in months of pro-democracy protests on the island, which have been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Hong Kong police arrested 81-year-old Martin Lee, along with 14 other pro-democracy protestors, on April 18. Lee has been demonstrating for universal suffrage in Hong Kong for nearly 40 years, and this is his first arrest, the Washington Post reports.
CNA spoke with one of Lee’s close friends, who said Lee and those arrested with him are currently bailed out of prison, and are safe.
Lee, the founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, wrote in an April 21 column in the Washington Post that he was arrested for taking part in protests last year against an extradition bill— now withdrawn— which would have allowed the Chinese government to extradite alleged criminals from Hong Kong to the mainland to stand trial.
Hong Kong is currently facing two plagues from China, Lee wrote: the coronavirus (COVID-19) and “attacks on our most basic human rights.”
“We can all hope a vaccine is soon developed for the coronavirus. But once Hong Kong’s human rights and rule of law are rolled back, the fatal virus of authoritarian rule will be here to stay,” Lee wrote.
He said that the free press in Hong Kong was vital for alerting the world to the dangers of the coronavirus, even as Chinese state media sought to repress information about the outbreak.
Now, Chinese authorities are attempting to pass legislation to increase their influence over Hong Kong, Lee said.
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