Hong Kong, Feb 28 (IANS) Three pro-democracy figures, including a newspaper founder, were arrested and charged in Hong Kong on Friday over a banned protest held in August 2019 amid anti-government demonstrations that gripped the city.
At about 7.30 a.m., police arrested Apple Daily founder and media mogul Jimmy Lai for illegal assembly and intimidating a reporter using foul language during anti-government protests in the city, Efe news reported citing local media reports.
The Apple Daily is known to support the pro-democracy movement, and therefore the protests, and for its opposition to the pro-Beijing government.
Two former pro-democracy politicians, Yeung Sum and Lee Cheuk-yan, were also arrested on Friday morning, according to state news outlet RTHK.
Yeung is the chairman of the Hong Kong Labor Party and general secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.
At a press briefing, Acting Senior Superintendent of Police Wong Tung-Kwong, said the police arrested three Hong Kong men aged between 63 and 72 on Friday morning in connection with a case of illegal assembly during the unauthorized rally on August 31, 2019.
The 72-year-old was also allegedly involved in a case of intimidation on June 4, 2017.
All three have been charged and will appear in a court on May 5, Wong added.
The August 31 demonstration, which marked the 13th consecutive weekend of protests in the city, took place with the participation of tens of thousands of people despite being banned by police.
Although the objective was to protest at the headquarters of the Liaison Office – an organization that represents the Beijing government in Hong Kong – many gathered at the police headquarters, who used blue-dye water canon for the first time since the start of the mass demonstrations at the beginning of June 2019.
The march was called by the Civil Human Rights Front, an organization that was behind the biggest and most peaceful demonstrations of the movement, but the authorities denied permission to hold it, claiming that in other protests there had been episodes of violence.
August 31 also marked the fifth anniversary of the decision of the Chinese authorities not to allow universal suffrage to elect the head of the Hong Kong government, which was the main reason for the so-called 2014 Umbrella Revolution.
The massive anti-government protests in Hong Kong are largely taking a break due to the COVID-19 epidemic, but there are still some pockets with low participation.
Supporters of the pro-democracy movement have warned that when the health crisis ends they could return to the streets to demonstrate again.