Fifty-three pro-democracy activists, including political candidates and academics, were arrested in Hong Kong Wednesday.
The arrestees were detained for attempting to overthrow the government under the National Security Law. Among the arrestees were American human rights lawyer John Clancey as well as long-established opposition figures James To and Claudio Mo.
The arrests were defended by a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry who said that the arrests were made to stop “external forces and individuals [colluding] to undermine China’s stability and security.” However, the arrests have been condemned by human rights organizations and leaders across the world. US President-elect Joe Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken nominee released a statement on behalf of the incoming administration condemning the arrests and stating that the administration will stand by the people of Hong Kong. The UK also condemned the arrests.
The UN Human Rights Office released a statement this week saying that it is “deeply concerned” with the arrests and sees them as a direct result of the National Security Law, which it has criticized as a tool that can be used to detain “individuals for exercising legitimate rights to participate in political and public life.” It also stressed that under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights citizens are entitled to choose their own representation and to free speech and peaceful demonstration.
The UN called for the immediate release of the arrestees and a guarantee of freedom for all Hong Kong citizens.