HK to arrest leaders of democracy protests

By Kelvin Chan , AP

HONG KONG — A day after Hong Kong picked a new pro-Beijing leader, police are planning to arrest student leaders and other prominent figures involved with the huge 2014 “Umbrella Movement” pro-democracy protests, activists said Monday.

Police have informed nine people that they will be charged with committing a public nuisance, according to the Demosisto political party. Hong Kong police, who have arrested more than 200 people for their involvement in the protests, did not reply to inquiries. The Department of Justice said police would prosecute nine people based on its legal advice, but did not identify them.

The arrests, could reignite political tensions in Hong Kong as the city prepares for its leadership transfer.

Beijing loyalist Carrie Lam promised to mend political divisions after she was named Hong Kong’s next leader on Sunday, but the impending arrests have fueled fears of a wider crackdown on pro-democracy supporters amid rising concerns about mainland China’s tightening grip on the semiautonomous city.

Those targeted for arrest include two university professors, Benny Tai and Chan Kin-man, and the Rev. Chu Yiu-ming. They founded a civil disobedience campaign that helped spark the 79-day protests demanding free elections for Hong Kong’s leader.

Others informed about their impending arrests include former student leaders Eason Chung and Tommy Cheung; a political activist; and three current and former pro-democracy lawmakers, according to Demosisto.

One of the lawmakers, Tanya Chan, who said she was called by police, said that “after all these years, first of all the timing, it’s very strange. It seems to be a well-designed plan of C.Y.,” referring to Hong Kong’s current leader, Leung Chun-ying, who is highly unpopular because of his hard-line stance against the protesters.