Three members of the pro-democracy student group accused of “subversion” for a scheme to support prisoners.
Hong Kong police arrested three student activists for “subversion” under the territory’s national security law on the group’s social welfare program for prisoners, street stalls and social media content.
Senior Superintendent Steve Li of the city’s new national security police unit announced on Monday the arrest of two men and one woman from the pro-democracy group, Student Politicism.
The three, aged between 18 and 20, were the group’s coordinator, Wong Yat-chin, permanent secretary Wong Chi-sum, and former spokesman Chu Wai-ying.
Li said the group had set up booths on the streets to spread what he called anti-government hate speech, even urging people not to use a government app meant to track the spread of the coronavirus.
Police raided the group’s warehouse and seized large quantities of candy, surgical masks, cookies, lotion and books, all items on a list of goods that prisoners may receive from abroad, as evidence.
But Li suggested that democracy activists were using the articles to gain a following in prison.
“Helping the prisoners is not a problem, but it depends on the intention,” Li said.
“If the intention is to help prisoners with the same beliefs and to recruit followers … to continue violating national security, it is a sure problem.”
The subversion charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The group also used slogans declared illegal under the new national security law and told people to “prepare for the next revolution,” Li said.
China imposed the security law on Hong Kong in late June last year, saying it was necessary to bring stability to the territory in the wake of the mass marches and protests in 2019. It has also revised the territory’s electoral system to ensure that only the “ patriots ”You can hold political office in Hong Kong.
Critics have said that Beijing is destroying the freedoms it promised when Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
Hundreds of people have been jailed since the 2019 protests, and many of the city’s most prominent pro-democracy activists and politicians are in jail awaiting trial, often on national security charges, or have already been doomed. Others have gone into exile.
In recent weeks, officials have tried to present prisons as the next battlefront in their war to protect “national security.”
Earlier this month, the city’s top security official, Chris Tang, accused the jailed activists of collecting items such as chocolates and hair clips to “generate power” and “solicit supporters.”
Wall-fare, a prisoner rights group that provided inmates with supplies and connected them with their pen pals, disbanded after he made the comments.
The national security law punishes what China considers secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life imprisonment.