A coalition of international lawmakers on Wednesday condemned the arrests of over 50 pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong—the largest mass arrest so far since the national security law went into effect on June 30.
Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a group of international cross-party legislators said the mass arrests made earlier on Wednesday is another proof that the so-called law is a political tool.
“Those arrested had taken part in primary polling for pro-democracy groups, with the aim of standing in the later illegitimately postponed Legislative Council elections,” IPAC said in a statement.
“Many are reportedly held under spurious charges of ‘subversion’ under the Hong Kong National Security Law, providing further proof that this law is being used to crackdown on all forms of political opposition in the city.”
The statement says the arrests showed that the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong authorities are determined to “destroy the last remnants of Hong Kong’s autonomy, freedoms, and rule of law.”
IPAC urged the international community to take “urgent action” in response to Beijing’s repeated breaches of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
“We call on all members of the international community to honor their promises to the people of Hong Kong and take urgent and unprecedented action to hold China accountable for these violations of international law,” the statement reads.
“Mere words are not enough. We call on democratic countries to take immediate action at the United Nations and to consider what joint, punitive economic action can be taken to ensure the Chinese government reconsiders its actions.”
The 53 activists, former lawmakers, and politicians were arrested on Wednesday morning on suspicion of subversion, a crime under Beijing’s national security law, for their roles in a primary vote held by the pan-democracy camp ahead of the Legislative Council (LegCo) elections in September last year, according to a Facebook post by local pro-democracy group Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF).
Among the arrested were former lawmakers of the local Civic Party and Democratic Party, including Wu Chi-wai, James To, Andrew Wan, Lam Cheuk-ting, and Alvin Yeung.
Other former lawmakers arrested included Gary Fan, Eddie Chu, Au Nok-hin, and Leung Kwok-hung.
Well-known local activist Jimmy Sham, who is currently one of the vice-chairs of local party League of the Social Democrats and the former CHRF convener, was also arrested.
Other primary candidates arrested on Wednesday included Lester Chum, Owen Chow, Tiffany Yuen, and Gwyneth Ho.
Former Hong Kong University law professor Benny Tai, who was also an organizer of the primary elections, was also arrested.
Frank Fang contributed to this report.