Hong Kong police yesterday arrested three former opposition lawmakers for disrupting legislative meetings several months ago, adding to concerns about a crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy camp.
Posts on the Facebook accounts of Ted Hui, Eddie Chu and Raymond Chan said that they had been arrested for the incidents in the main chamber of the legislature.
The three interrupted the meetings separately by splashing spicy liquids and other items in May and June.
A statement from the Hong Kong police said they arrested three former lawmakers on suspicion of contempt of the legislature and intent to cause harm to others. The statement did not identify them by name.
Lawmakers and pro-democracy activists have accused the Hong Kong government and the Chinese central government in Beijing of tightening control over the semi-autonomous territory in response to demands for more democracy.
They say the authorities are destroying the autonomy promised to the city, a global financial center with greater freedoms than mainland China.
The three former lawmakers interrupted meetings debating a now-passed ordinance criminalizing any insult or abuse of the Chinese national anthem, the “March of the Volunteers.”
On May 28, Hui ran to the front of the legislature, threw a rotten plant and tried to kick it at the president of the body. Mr. Chu spilled a bottle of liquid in the legislature.
A week later, Mr. Chan tried to approach the front of the camera with a pot of spicy liquid hidden in a paper lantern, but dropped it after security guards stopped him.
On the same day, Mr. Hui splashed some liquid in front of the legislature and was escorted.
Emergency services were called to the scene and several pro-Beijing lawmakers reported they were feeling unwell.
Hui, who was released on bail last night, said it was “ridiculous” that the police were using criminal proceedings against lawmakers based on what they say or do in the legislature.
“This just shows all the people of Hong Kong and the world that this regime is a tyranny, that its persecution against dissidents, against opposition, against democratic lawmakers has never stopped,” he told reporters.
“It has been an ongoing prosecution against us.”
Chu and Chan resigned from the legislature in protest after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam postponed the legislative elections for a year, citing the coronavirus pandemic.
The pro-democracy camp criticized the postponement as an attempt by the pro-Beijing government to thwart its efforts to win a majority in the elections, which were scheduled for September.
Opposition lawmakers also said the postponement violated the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, which came into effect after the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.
The arrests of the former lawmakers is the latest in a string of arrests in recent months.
Earlier this month, seven former and incumbent members of the pro-democracy camp, including Chu and Chan, were arrested during an earlier chaotic legislative session on May 8.
During that meeting, fights broke out between the pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps as they debated who would chair a committee that oversees the bills.
The arrested pro-democracy lawmakers were charged with rushing to the president’s desk, colliding with security guards and throwing sheets of paper from the public rostrum.
Last week, 15 pro-democracy lawmakers resigned en masse after Beijing passed a resolution that led to the disqualification of four of their colleagues.
Hui and another lawmaker, Claudia Mo, left their posts immediately, while the others are expected to remain until December 1.
The resignations will leave the organization practically without a voice of opposition.