Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sharply condemned the temporary arrest of leading members of the Hong Kong democracy movement in a Saturday night (local time) statement. Pompeo wrote that the Beijing government and its Hong Kong representatives continue to violate the “one country, two systems” principle that freedom of assembly and expression are guaranteed in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong police had previously arrested several prominent members of the democracy movement. Among them are the founder of the Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, Jimmy Lai, lawyer Martin Lee, and politicians and former MPs Albert Ho, Lee Cheuk Yan and Yeung Sum, local media and activists reported on Twitter on Saturday. They are accused of having organized illegal gatherings in the ongoing demonstrations in China’s special administrative region last year.
During the course of Saturday, those arrested were released on bail; they are now waiting for their court dates. The pro-democratic politicians saw an attempt to silence the critics.
Pro-democratic forces have been demonstrating in Hong Kong almost every week since the summer of 2019 for free elections and against the growing influence of the Communist leadership in Beijing. There were riots and clashes with the police. The protests were directed against the Hong Kong government, which was not freely elected, and against the growing influence of the communist leadership in Beijing. The demonstrators also called for an independent investigation into police brutality in the protests and impunity for thousands of detainees.
With the outbreak of the new coronavirus, the democratic movement has become quieter since January. Since its return to China in 1997, the former British crown colony has been governed autonomously under the sovereignty principle of “one country, two systems”.
The seven million Hong Kong citizens enjoy – unlike the people in the Communist People’s Republic – many rights such as freedom of assembly and expression. However, they are increasingly concerned about these rights.