Police to arrest League of Social Democrats members over April rally
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Police are expected to arrest the deputy head of the League of Social Democrats along with a few other people for illegal assembly over a protest last year.
Avery Ng Man-yuen, vice-chairman of the radical party, said yesterday that the action was aimed at stifling free speech. Ng said police from the Hong Kong Island regional crime squad phoned him yesterday, asking that he and nine others go to a police station next week to give oral statements and be formally arrested for illegal assembly.
The force said last night that it had asked only eight people to report to a police station.
The group took part in a protest outside the central government's liaison office on April 1, claiming Beijing had interfered in the chief executive election the month before. Protest organisers said 15,000 people took part in a march towards the office, while police put the figure at 5,300.
"It is another political arrest," Ng said. "The government merely wants to deter other activists. Freedom of speech and assembly is diminishing in Hong Kong."
Police said the seven men and one woman were suspected of illegal assembly and of desecrating the national flag by wilfully burning it. The force had sought legal advice and denied any political considerations came into play.
Ng said the group included league members Raphael Wong Ho-ming and Ma Wan-ki, Diaoyu Islands activists Koo Sze-yiu and Yang Kuang, and gay-rights activist Kenneth Cheung Kam-hung.
During the rally, scuffles broke out between police and protesters. Officers used pepper spray on activists who tried to break through barricades to get near the liaison office's entrance.
Ng said that at the time he was negotiating with an officer for better access to the office so activists could better express their demands. He said the officer had agreed to let them go past the barricades group by group, but that pledge did not materialise.
He accused the government of persecuting the league. The party has faced at least 11 criminal cases over protests and assemblies in the last two years.