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18 Apr 2020 | 08:27 AM UTC

Hong Kong: Police arrest democracy activists in raids April 18

Police arrest 14 veteran democracy activists under charges of illegal assembly in Hong Kong on April 18; further arrests and associated unrest possible in the near term

security
HKG

Event

Police forces in Hong Kong reportedly raided and arrested 14 democracy activists under charges of illegal assembly on Saturday, April 18. According to media sources, nine former legislators, as well as the Democratic Party founder and senior attorney, Martin Lee, are among the activists arrested. While the detainees' identities remain unconfirmed by authorities, Hong Kong police officials announced that the arrests were linked to the August 1, October 1, and October 20 unrest-related incidents in 2019.

Further arrests and associated unrest are possible across Hong Kong over the near term. 

Context

On September 4, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, which would have allowed authorities in Hong Kong to extradite fugitives wanted in mainland China and other territories. The bill sparked mass protests of up to 2 million people throughout Hong Kong since June 9. However, protest actions have continued since the government's announcement, as protesters' demands evolved into a wider pro-democracy movement, calling for government reforms and police accountability over violence. Hong Kong authorities have detained over 7,800 people since demonstrations have started, and it remains unclear how many remain in jail. Demonstrations spread from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and the New Territories in and became increasingly violent. Activists have also accused the police of using unnecessary force in their attempts to disperse protesters.

The COVID-19 outbreak in January, and the subsequent partial lockdown measures implemented since early February across the territory, led to several months of relative calm.

Advice

Individuals in Hong Kong are advised to monitor developments to the situation and adhere to all other instructions issued by local authorities.