Another former member of the now-disbanded Hong Kong activist group Studentlocalism was arrested by the city’s national security agents.
Tim Luk was arrested on the charge of “assisting fugitives,” Studentlocalism announced on social media early on Nov. 9. The group maintains international offices advocating for Hong Kong’s independence.
Charles Ho, a district councilor of Hong Kong’s Sha Tin district, told local newspaper Apple Daily on Nov. 9 that Luk was his former assistant. He added that Luk’s home was searched when he was arrested.
A few hours after the announcement, Hong Kong police confirmed the arrest of a 34-year-old man surnamed Luk in Yuen Long district, according to local media. The police said the arrest was made as part of an investigation of former Studentlocalism convenor Tony Chung, 19, and other group members.
Chung was arrested near the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong on Oct. 27 and charged with secession under Beijing’s sweeping national security law, which punishes vaguely defined crimes against the one-party communist state with the possible maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
According to local media, he was allegedly seeking political asylum before his arrest. Chung was denied bail on Oct. 29 and is scheduled for a court hearing on Jan. 7, 2021.
Also arrested on Oct. 27 were two other former members of Studentlocalism, 17-year-old Yanni Ho and 21-year-old William Chan. The two were subsequently released on bail.
The Hong Kong police said Chung, Ho, and Chan were being investigated for their comments online since September, including online posts calling for the establishment of a “Hong Kong nation.” Since the former British colony was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, Beijing has viewed independence as a red line, deeming Hong Kong an inseparable part of Chinese territory.
On June 30, just hours before the national security law went into effect, Studentlocalism announced that it would disband and cease all operations in Hong Kong. The organization has since continued its operations outside of the city, with offices in Australia, Taiwan, and the United States.
On Oct. 29, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement criticizing Beijing and the Hong Kong government for the arrests of Chung, Ho, and Chan.
“The Beijing-controlled Hong Kong government continues to stifle dissent, repress public opinion, and use law enforcement for political purposes,” Pompeo stated.
In an assessment of Hong Kong’s human rights situation since the security law went into effect, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) concluded that Hong Kong and Chinese authorities were using the law “exclusively as a tool to suppress political dissent protected” by Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Beijing promised to guarantee Hongkongers autonomy and basic freedoms not available in mainland China when it signed the 1984 Sino–British Joint Declaration, a legally binding international treaty that paved the way for the 1997 handover.
Under the treaty, Hong Kong would be governed under a political framework known as “one country, two systems.”