Two Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers arrested over Yuen Long 2019 protests


Police in Hong Kong have arrested two opposition lawmakers in relation to anti-government protests in July last year, including Lam Cheuk-ting who was injured when a large group of thugs attacked protesters and civilians at the Yuen Long train station.

Legislators Lam and Ted Hui Chi-fung from the Democratic Party, were arrested at their homes on Wednesday morning, August 26.

Both men were suspected of offences related to a protest on July 06, 2019 outside the Tuen Mun police station.

The arrests come amid a crackdown on dissent and freedom of expression as Hong Kong authorities applies the letter of the newly enacted security law.

A post on Lam’s Facebook page said he was suspected of conspiracy to destroy property and obstruction of justice. It said he was also arrested on suspicion of rioting at the now infamous Yuen Long MTR incident.

Lam was injured while live-streaming events at Yuen Long and taken to hospital with facial injuries requiring stitches.

Over time the narrative of the incident changed and Lam has since been accused, including by pro-Beijing legislators, of bringing protesters to the station. A small rally in January called for his arrest.

On Wednesday afternoon, the senior superintendent Chan Tin-chu went further, telling media the attacks came from both the group wearing white and protesters, and that Lam’s arrival aggravated the situation.

“It does not mean you are free from responsibility if you’re doing live [streaming],” Chan said, without elaborating on how Lam’s actions may have amounted to rioting.

An administrator for Lam’s Twitter account rejected the accusation, and Chan’s comments sparked accusations the police were attempting to rewrite history despite contradictory footage and witness accounts.

Lam has maintained the white-clad men were attacking people before he arrived at the station, citing CCTV footage as evidence, and has been critical of police for an apparent lack of action against the attackers.

Victims of the attack, including Lam, filed a civil suit against Hong Kong’s police commissioner earlier this year accusing the force of failing to protect people.

Police were widely criticised for failing to attend emergency calls from Yuen Long for over half an hour and making no arrests on the night, prompting accusations of collusion which were exacerbated when pictures emerged of police officers standing alongside the attackers.

However, in May the police watchdog largely cleared Hong Kong police, saying while they were slow to act it saw no evidence of collusion, and that it believed taking any arrest action on the night “would only escalate the situation”.

Amnesty International said the fresh round of arrests was “the latest example of how the Hong Kong government is weaponizing the law to persecute dissidents”.

“No one should be targeted with violence for exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly. The Hong Kong authorities should bring to justice the real perpetrators of violence at Yuen Long MTR, rather than using the incident as a pretext to arrest political opponents.”

More than 40 people have reportedly been arrested over the incident so far. (Source: The Guardian)