The police in Hong Kong on Friday arrested prominent activists and blocked plans for a march on Saturday as the authorities intensified their crackdown on an opposition movement that has shaken the semiautonomous Chinese city for months.
Police have refused permission for a pro-democracy march on Saturday and an appeal by organisers to allow the demonstration to proceed was turned down on Friday.
The Civil Human Rights Front, the organiser of previous mass protests, said it would comply with the order and cancel the march from Hong Kong’s central business district to Beijing’s main representative Liaison Office in the city.
On the courthouse steps Friday evening, pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong faced the cameras alongside Agnes Chow, who was also arrested earlier in the day for charges relating to a protest on June 21.
Wong said: “We (are) strongly aware of how President Xi Jinping and the Beijing government are the ones who back and endorse the Hong Kong police to conduct such a mass arrest and prosecution.
“It just implies that the one country, two systems (set up) has already eroded to one country, one-and-a-half systems. High degree autonomy is strongly being eroded under the chilling effect of troops moving to the border. Beijing just continuously manipulates on Hong Kong people’s freedom and we shall never surrender.”
Afterwards, Chow made a statement. She said: “We can see very clearly that the regime and the Hong Kong government is trying to create a white terror to try to scare Hong Kong people to not participate in the social and democratic movement of the future.
“But, we, Hong Kong people won’t give up and won’t be scared of this white terror and injustice. We will keep on fighting for democracy and five demands of Hong Kong people, including a complete retraction of the extradition law and independent investigation over police violence and also the most important thing is the universal suffrage and a democratic political system in Hong Kong.”
The pair both face the charge of “inciting others to participate in unlawful assembly,” which can carry a five-year jail term. They will reappear in court on November 8th.
More than three months of unrest in Hong Kong was sparked by anger over a now-suspended extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial in Communist Party-controlled courts.
It has evolved into calls for greater democracy under the “one country, two systems” formula, which guarantees freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland that include an independent judiciary, under which Hong Kong has been ruled since 1997.