The German government has said it is concerned about freedom of demonstration in Hong Kong following the recent arrests of pro-democracy activists.

An official statement last Friday noted how at least 18 activists had been arrested over the past few weeks. Each were organisers or participants in demonstrations since the pro-democracy occupy protests shook the city in 2014.

Berlin Bundesregierung Germany flag
Photo: Pixabay.

Steffen Seibert, the German Federal Government’s spokesperson, criticised the wave of recent arrests.

“[Seibert] emphasised the significance of freedom of demonstration in a free society and called for a fair trial for the arrested activists,” the statement read.

The statement quoted him as saying, “that the ‘one country, two systems’ principle obliges Hong Kong as well as China to safeguard the liberal basic law in Hong Kong.”

“Freedom of demonstration is regarded as a core principle of every free society by the Federal Government.”

“The Federal Government, Seibert continued, calls on all responsible parties to do everything to ensure respect for the basic freedoms of Hong Kong. Due process must be observed in the legal proceedings against the defendants.”

The English statement, originally in German, was posted by the German Consulate General Hong Kong’s Facebook page on Monday, alongside a Chinese translation.

Verhaftungswelle in Hongkong – Bundesregierung besorgt um DemonstrationsrechtRegierungssprecher Steffen Seibert hat am…

Posted by German Consulate General Hong Kong on Monday, 8 May 2017

The 2014 protests were sparked after Beijing laid out a restrictive framework for Hong Kong’s elections, in which a nominating committee largely controlled by Beijing would pick up to three candidates to face a popular vote.

A day after Carrie Lam was chosen as the next chief executive in March, nine pro-democracy figures were charged with public nuisance for the 2014 protests.

In late April, former lawmakers Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung Chung-hang were charged for participating in an unlawful assembly at the Legislative Council. The alleged incident occurred on November 2 last year, when they had yet to be stripped of their lawmaker statuses by the court.

The next day, following Yau and Leung’s arrest, nine more activists were charged, mostly with public disorder and participating in an unlawful assembly. It relates to a protest five months ago against an impending Basic Law interpretation by Beijing, triggered by the duo’s oaths of office which some found offensive to Chinese people.

The European Union recently called for the resumption of electoral reform in Hong Kong after the “politically challenging” year of 2016.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.