At least seven pro-democracy lawmakers were either arrested or notified of their pending arrest on Friday night, with police saying that they broke the law during a contentious Legislative Council meeting in May.
According to a Facebook post by his staff, democrat Eddie Chu was arrested for “violating section 19 of Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance” during a meeting on May 11. Chu was arrested near his home at around 10:15pm.
People Power lawmaker Ray Chan and Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting both said they received calls from the police, notifying them that they will be arrested for the same offence. Chan said he would turn himself in at midnight, while Lam said he would wait for the police to come to him.
Lawmakers Kwok Ka-ki, Leung Yiu-chung, Gary Fan and Au Nok-hin were also told by police that they will be arrested.
Legislative Councilor Eddie Chu Hoi Dick was arrested tonight at 2215.
It is understood that Chu was
arrested for breaching Article 19 of Legislative Council（Powers and Privileges）Ordinance on 11th May during an illegal meeting chaired by Abraham Shek.
— Chu-Hoidick Eddie (@ChuHoiDick) November 8, 2019
According to section 19 of the Legislative Council (Powers and Privileges) Ordinance, it is an offence to “assault, obstruct or molest” any lawmaker going to a meeting, to force any lawmaker to declare themselves for or against any motion, or to “assault, interfere with, molest, resist or obstruct any officer” of the legislature.
The offence comes with a maximum penalty of HK$10,000 and 12 months in jail.
In his Facebook post, Chu said he was arrested in relation to the “illegal meeting chaired by Abraham Shek” on May 11.
During the legislative deliberation of the now-withdrawn extradition bill, the pro-democracy camp and the pro-Beijing camp were split over who had the authority to chair the relevant bills committee. Democrats said that meeting should be chaired by James To, while their opponents favoured Abraham Shek.
On May 11, pro-democracy lawmakers occupied the chamber and started the meeting ahead of schedule, led by To. Pro-Beijing lawmakers then tried to enter the chamber with Shek, which led to extended scuffles in the corridor. Multiple lawmakers from both sides said they were injured in the aftermath.
In a joint statement, the 24 pro-democracy lawmakers condemned the arrests, saying that the government was trying to exact political retribution and spread white terror.
“The actions of the pro-democracy lawmakers on that day was to stop an illegal bills committee, and the matter was eventually solved in the legislature itself. We don’t see any reason for law enforcement to step in, and we condemn the government’s repeated attempts to derogate the Legislative Council,” they wrote.
Democrats also accused the government of trying to create fear and chaos, so as to postpone the District Council election scheduled to take place on November 24.
“The arrests will target many candidates running for District Council, but it will not stop us from participating in it, and we will prove via the election that those in power have made grave mistakes over the past five months.”
At the time of the incident at the legislature, the head of the pro-Beijing DAB party Starry Lee said she would consider asking the police to intervene. Some of the injured lawmakers also said they planned to individually report their cases to the police.
The extradition bill – which went on to spark the biggest political crisis in Hong Kong in 50 years – was formally withdrawn by the Carrie Lam administration last month.
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