Lam Cheuk-ting, a former lawmaker of the Hong Kong Democratic Party, was arrested by Hong Kong’s anti-corruption agency for allegedly disclosing the identity of a police commander under investigation in the “7.21” incident—a violent attack at a local train station that occurred during the anti-extradition bill protests that rocked the city last year.
Lam says that he did not commit a crime and was only investigating suspected collusion between the police and criminal gangs, and accused the anti-corruption agency of becoming a tool for the Chinese communist regime to suppress dissent.
According to Chinese language media reports, on the morning of Dec. 28, Lam was arrested by the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and charged with three counts of disclosing the identity of a suspect under investigation for possible police misconduct over the “7.21” incident.
Lam uploaded a video footage to his Facebook account, which shows the ICAC coming to his house to arrest him. He accused the ICAC of becoming a tool of suppression used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to further erode Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The suspect under investigation is Yau Nai-keung, the assistant district police commander in Yuen Long district, who was the first to lead a police unit into Nam Bin Wai Village (in Yuen Long) to quell the violence that erupted at a local metro station on the evening of July 21, 2019.
The attacks occurred after a peaceful protest in which 430,000 people took to the streets to demand the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill. A group of men in white t-shirts, some wielding poles, rushed into the Yuen Long metro station and began attacking passengers, according to footage taken at the scene. Lam was also present at the time. The extradition bill was formally withdrawn in October last year.
According to Lam and other witnesses, the attackers especially targeted those dressed in black, as many protesters who were in the march wore black clothing. They also entered train cars and began attacking passengers inside. At least 45 people were injured, including Lam, who was struck on the head by a man in a white t-shirt. Lam went to the hospital for treatment.
Some politicians and activists have long linked Hong Kong’s shadowy network of triad criminal gangs to political intimidation and violence in recent years. Lam told Reuters that he believed the attackers were part of local triads, and that the police “deliberately turned a blind eye to these attacks.”
In August this year, Lam was arrested by Hong Kong police and charged with “rioting,” along with former Hong Kong lawmaker Ted Hui, for their involvement in the “7.21” incident.
The recent charges by the ICAC accuse Lam of publicly disclosing the identity of a police officer involved in the incident. Lam’s case was brought before the Hong Kong Eastern Magistracy on the afternoon of Dec. 28. The judge approved to release him on a bail amount of HKD$2,000 (about $260) and postponed the case until March 9, 2021. Lam is not allowed to leave Hong Kong in the interim, according to Chinese media reports.
According to a report by Radio Free Asia, Lam spoke with the media before his court appearance and said that he was grateful for the support of citizens, but his own case should not be the main focus. He urged the public to continually pay attention to the plight of the 12 Hong Kong citizens detained in mainland China and hoped that they would safely return home soon.
Lam told RFA that he currently faces eight charges in different cases, but he has no regrets.
“This is my charge. The regime wants to silence me, and wants me to stop investigating the ‘7.21’ incident. I will never give up. I will only put more effort to continue to hold them accountable according to the law for the collusion between police and criminals,” he said.
Outside the court, dozens of citizens and many pro-democracy lawmakers came to support Lam, including former Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam and Leung Kwok-hung, RFA reported.
The CCP has been targeting pro-democracy activists and lawmakers in Hong Kong in what many are calling a suppression of dissident voices.
In November, four pro-democracy lawmakers were forced out of the legislature by new rules set by Beijing, prompting the pro-democracy camp to resign en masse.
Frank Fank contributed to this report.