At least 11 people were arrested Thursday morning in Hong Kong, allegedly for helping 12 Hongkongers flee the city before they were captured at sea by Chinese coastal guards in August last year, 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 via a Facebook post that her mother, surnamed Cheung, was arrested at 6:15 a.m. local time and taken to the police station in Tsuen Wan district. Ho wrote the arrest had to do with the 12 Hongkongers.
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. 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.
Since their arrest, they were held in detention in China before 10 of the 12 Hongkongers were sentenced to imprisonment from seven months to three years on Dec. 30 last year. They were found guilty of either “organizing others to illegally cross the border” or “ “illegally crossing the border.” The remaining two teen minors were repatriated back to Hong Kong on the same day.
One of the two minors, 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 for absconding.
British NGO Hong Kong Watch immediately took to Twitter to condemn 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,” it wrote.
Luke de Pulford, a member of the UK Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, said the UK should have done more after learning that Wong was arrested.
“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 last year, Hong Kong police arrested nine people suspected of arranging transport for the 12 Hongkongers.