Pan-democrats arrested and released over Occupy support

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A handful of pan-democratic legislators attended arrest appointments for their involvement in the Occupy Movement. The arrestees were accused of different counts of “attending an unauthorised assembly”. All of them refused bail and were released unconditionally. None of them have been charged yet. On each occasion, the police stated that they maintained the right to make further arrests and charge them when enough evidence was gathered.

The Democratic party’s Albert Ho Chun-Yan and Helena Wong Bik-wan were first, followed by Democracy Party founder, Martin Lee. The former duo were released after about an hour. Several pan-democratic legislators were present in the morning in support of the arrestees, including Civic Party’s Alan Leong and the original leaders of Occupy Central, Benny Tai Yiu-Ting and Dr Chan Kin Man.

“Unauthorised assembly”

Wong was accused of attending an unauthorised assembly on three occasions, September 27th, September 30th, and October 15th, while Martin Lee was accused of eight counts. Both Ho and Wong explained they were shown footage of the occasions they were involved in the three month long occupation of main streets that ended in December. Wong said she was shown a video taken by the police, and two photos that were downloaded from her Facebook accounts. Both said they did not answer any of the police’s questions, believing it was up to the police to prove if they were guilty. Ho believes it is likely the police would add on other charges in the future.

All three pan-democrats decided against any bail conditions after arrest. In this case the police can either keep them in their headquarters for 48 hours or must let them go. The police decided the latter but maintained if they had enough evidence they could still arrest them again. Wong explained,”Whether they will charge me and take the case to the court is subject to the final investigation and decision made by the legal secretary.”

The struggle

When asked if these appointments were necessary, Ho said it was the police’s right to follow procedure as long as it was legal, but also said they would adhere to their own principles in return. Wong believes the arrests are a kind of political prosecution against those who fight for true democracy, and thinks the motivation behind the government is to “deter people’s courage and confidence in fighting from democracy and to scare them away.”

Wong said, “Even though we know we are launching civil disobedience against the unreasonable restrictions on political reform in Hong Kong…I think this kind of prosecution has been very ridiculous, and has also been selective. But we still firmly believe that what we are doing is very reasonable and we will continue our struggle for democracy.”

Released unconditionally

Information and Technology Functional Constituency legislator Charles Mok Nai-Kwong and Civic Party Chairwoman Audrey Eu were also arrested and released unconditionally on the same day. Eu questioned why the police were so swift in making these appointments, but have yet to charge the seven policemen who were caught beating up protester and Civic Party member, Ken Tsang, on television.

Those arrested today were prominent supporters during the pro-democracy protests that started on September 26th last year. Protesters occupied major roads in Admiralty, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, calling for democratic reform for the 2017 Chief Executive Elections. Shortly after the last occupied site was cleared in December, several protest leaders have been arrested and released under the same appointment procedure, including Scholarism’s Joshua Wong Chi-Fung and Hong Kong Federation of Students Secretary General Alex Chow Yong-Kang.