At least 11 people were arrested in Hong Kong on Jan. 14 for allegedly helping 12 Hongkongers who tried to flee the city last August, according to local media.
Among those arrested was Daniel Wong Kwok-tung, a Hong Kong lawyer and district councilor. According to his Facebook post, he was arrested at home at around 6:10 a.m. local time by the local police’s national security department.
Willis Ho, a local activist and filmmaker, stated on Facebook that her mother, surnamed Cheung, was arrested at 6:15 a.m. local time and taken to the police station in Tsuen Wan district. The arrest was related to the 12 Hongkongers, Ho wrote.
The 12 Hongkongers left Hong Kong on a boat on Aug. 23, 2020, allegedly seeking to claim political asylum on the self-ruled island of Taiwan, before they were captured at sea by Chinese coastal guards. Since June 2019, when millions took to the street in protest against a now-scrapped extradition bill, many Hongkongers have fled to other countries and regions, fearing prosecution over their roles in local protests.
The Hongkongers had been detained in China before 10 of the 12 were sentenced on Dec. 30, 2020, to imprisonment that ranged from seven months to three years, for the alleged crimes of “organizing others to illegally cross the border” or “illegally crossing the border.” The remaining two, who are minors, were repatriated to Hong Kong on the same day.
One of the two teens, Hong Lam-phuc, appeared in court on Jan. 13, after completing his mandatory 14-day quarantine, a Hong Kong government measure to prevent the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus. According to Hong Kong media, his case was adjourned until Feb. 26, when he might be charged with absconding.
The latest arrests came a week after 53 pro-democracy activists, formers lawyers, and politicians were arrested for suspected violations of the city’s national security law.
The British NGO Hong Kong Watch immediately condemned the latest arrests.
“We hope the world is watching and likeminded democracies are ready to act in response to the increasing deterioration of human rights, freedom, and the rule of law in Hong Kong,” the organization wrote on Twitter.
Luke de Pulford, a member of the UK Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, said the United Kingdom should have done more after learning about Wong's arrest.
“Daniel, some in this country are profoundly sorry the UK failed to protect #HK autonomy and your way of life, as we promised,” he wrote in a tweet.
On Oct. 10, 2020, Hong Kong police arrested nine people suspected of arranging transportation for the 12 Hongkongers.