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Citing Foreign Collusion, Hong Kong Police Arrest Local Pro-Democracy Leader, Chow Hang-tung and Others

Published: September 8, 2021
Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China vice-chairwoman Chow Hang-tung speaks during a press conference on September 5, 2021 in Hong Kong, China. (Image: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

On the morning of Wednesday Sept. 8, four leaders of the pro-democracy group, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements, known for organizing the city’s annual 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre vigil, were arrested by authorities who allege the group was working as a “foreign agent.”

The four arrested include the vice chairwoman and barrister Chow Hang-tung and standing committee members Leung Kam-wai, Tang Ngok-kwan and Chan Dor-wai. 

Last month, Hong Kong police sent a letter to the group, citing the contentious national security law that was introduced by Beijing last year, requesting that the group hand over its membership and financial information no later than Sept. 7. 

The group declined the request in writing and on the morning of Sept. 8 police attended Chow’s work place — located in the Bank of America Tower in Hong Kong — to arrest her and several other standing committee members including Leung, Tang and Chan. 

“Police on Wednesday confirmed that they arrested three men and one woman aged between 36 and 57 for failing to provide information in accordance with the national security law.” The Epoch Times reported. 

The Hong Kong police are investigating whether or not the group is working with a foreign interest.

Chris Tang, the Secretary for Security in Hong Kong, said on Sept. 7 that if someone fails to hand over information required by the Hong Kong police that swift law enforcement action would be taken. 

If found in contravention of the order for information the group could be fined $15,500 and members of the group could be imprisoned for up to six months for failing to submit the requested information on time. 

Arrests broadcast live on Facebook

Chow broadcast her arrest live on Facebook showing police ringing her doorbell and attempting to gain access to her office. Leung’s arrest was also broadcast live. 

Behaving flippantly Chow posted to Facebook, “The worst thing about being arrested is that I’ve not changed into a new set of clothes or brushed my teeth, will my breath overwhelm the national security police?”

Another post on Facebook by Chow, asking whether anyone had any parting words for her, garnered more than 500 comments with many telling her to “take care” and thanking her for her work at the alliance.

Chow was scheduled to represent pro-democracy activist Gwyneth Ho in court for a bail hearing prior to her arrest. Chow posted on Facebook that it was “regrettable” that she would be unable to attend. 

Since the implementation of the National Security Law in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020 — which outlaws secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion — dozens of pro-democracy activists have been arressted. 

The aggressive nature in which the Hong Kong authorities have wielded the law has forced several pro-democracy groups to disband due to safety concerns, including the Civil Human Rights Front and the Professional Teachers’ Union.

Members of Chow’s pro-democracy alliance were to hold a general meeting on Sept. 25 to discuss whether or not to disband. On Wednesday, the alliance stated that the meeting was going to proceed. 

The group reportedly still has upwards of 100 active members and, in order to disband, at least 20 members must be present at the meeting and 70 percent of the members present must agree.