Legislative Council oath-taking saga

At least 10 Hong Kong activists arrested over oath rally that saw clashes outside Beijing liaison office

The suspects were arrested for various offences including unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct in a public place and possession of offensive weapons

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 January, 2017, 11:15am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 January, 2017, 12:21am

Police have arrested at least 10 activists over clashes and stand-offs between police and protesters on the eve of Beijing’s ruling on the Legislative Council oath ­controversy last November.

They include Demosisto party members Ivan Lam Long-yin and Derek Lam Shun-hin, Student Fight for Democracy members Lo Tak-cheong and Sammy Yip Chi-hin, and League of Social Democrats deputy secretary general Dickson Chau Ka-faat and ­member Chan Man-wai.

The latest was Lingnan University student union president Devon Cheng Pui-lun, who was arrested at Hong Kong International Airport as he returned from a trip to Japan with his family. He was taken to his home in Tuen Mun on Wednesday night for a search.

Demosisto said on its Facebook page that police had arrested Ivan Lam and Derek Lam “by going to their homes at 6am ­[on Wednesday morning]” over ­“unlawful assembly”.

It added the arrests were ­related to “a civil disobedience ­action at the liaison office” that the party had co-organised with the Labour Party, the league and ­Student Fight for Democracy.

The league said on its Facebook page that police went to the homes of Chau and Chan on Wednesday to arrest the pair, but neither was at home.

Chan later turned himself in at Sham Shui Po police station, while Chau and Yip went to Wan Chai police station.

Yip said what he did in ­November was an act of civil ­disobedience and he “would bear the consequence”.

Watch: Hong Kong police and protesters at the rally last November

Demosisto secretary general Joshua Wong Chi-fung described the police action as “a purge against civil disobedience activists” ahead of next month’s court hearing on the government’s legal challenges over the oaths taken by four pro-democracy legislators, including Demosisto chairman Nathan Law Kwun-chung and the league’s “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung.

Police said officers from the Organised Crime and Triad ­Bureau and Hong Kong Island ­regional crime unit swooped into action on Wednesday and arrested nine men across the city.

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The suspects were arrested for various offences including unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct in a public place and possession of offensive weapons. Police said further arrests were possible.

On November 6, the Civil Human Rights Front said at least 13,000 people joined its march from Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to the Court of Final Appeal in Central to oppose an interpretation of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, by Beijing’s top lawmaking body.

However, Demosisto, the Labour Party and the league did not stop in Central; instead, the group detoured to the central government’s liaison office in Sai Wan.

Protesters clashed with officers there, charging police barricades and spilling into one of two traffic lanes of Des Voeux Road West. The disruption brought traffic on a section of the road to a standstill until the following morning.

The clash between officers and the 4,000-strong crowd saw the use of pepper spray by police, while one officer was said to have been injured by protesters hurling bricks. In total, four people were arrested that night for obstructing police officers, the force said.

The rally was held a day before the National People’s Congress Standing Committee endorsed an interpretation of Hong Kong’s Basic Law to make “insincere” oath-taking punishable by instant disqualification.

The rally came weeks after pro-independence lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching swore allegiance to a “Hong Kong nation” and insulted China at their Legco swearing-in ceremony.

After the ruling from Beijing, the two were disqualified by the local High Court.