Condemning the arrest of three student democracy activists under Hong Kong’s new national security law, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has demanded that the “Chinese-controlled Hong Kong Police Force” immediately release the activists.
“The United States strongly condemns the arrest and detention of three student democracy activists and calls on Hong Kong authorities to release those that remain detained immediately. The Beijing-controlled Hong Kong government continues to stifle dissent, repress public opinion, and use law enforcement for political purposes,” Pompeo said in a press statement.
He further said that China has violated its international obligations under the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.
“Chinese Communist Party and its Hong Kong proxies crush the promised autonomy of Hong Kong, and eviscerate Hong Kong’s respect for human rights, including the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” he said.
“The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong”, he added.
As per media reports, the three arrested – Tony Chung, William Chan and Yanni Ho – were affiliated with Studentlocalism, a onetime pro-independence group.
The Hong Kong Police has reported that the two men and one woman — aged between 17 and 21 — were arrested for allegedly making secessionist comments on social media.
The three Studentlocalism members were earlier arrested in July over some posts made on social media by a page representing the international wing of the group.
While the Hong Kong branch of the organization have said that it had disbanded after the imposition of national security law in the city, the police have accused Chung and others, who are based in Hong Kong, of continuing to advocate for the city’s independence from China.
As per the national security law, such crime will land the accused in a sentence of three to 10 years or even life imprisonment for offences of a “grave nature”.
Anti-government protests have been rocking Hong Kong since last year. The enactment of draconian national security law in Hong Kong in June to stop people from protesting has intensified the demonstrations.
The national security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong criminalizes any act of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison. It came into effect from July 1.