Police have told three district councillors and four of their assistants that they will not face charges for taking part in a protest against the national security law on July 1 last year, the day after it came into force.

shatin district councillors DC charges dropped
Sha Tin District Councillors Raymond Li, William Shek, Sunny Chiu (left to right). Photos: via Facebook.

Sha Tin district councillors Sunny Chiu and William Shek announced on Facebook Thursday that they received calls from the police, informing them that charges related to the unauthorised assembly at Times Square would be dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Police will drop Public Order Ordinance charges against a total of seven individuals, including Chiu, Shek, a third Sha Tin district councillor Raymond Li, and four of their office assistants, Chiu told HKFP.

“I just feel quite surprised, but not especially glad about it because the police continue to abuse their powers to arrest and to press charges indiscriminately, and they could still prosecute us in the future,” he said.

arrests causeway bay july 1 2020 (19)
Photo: May James/HKFP.

Chiu has been instructed to go to the police station on Monday to pick up his clothing, a work mobile phone and a backpack, which were seized on the day of his arrest.

Another unauthorised assembly charge against him and two other Sha Tin district councillors, Wong Hok-lai and Ken Wong, relating to a protest in November 2019 was dropped in January last year due to insufficient evidence, said Chiu.

Shek in a Facebook post said police “have abused their powers to arrest and to charge. This is only the tip of the iceberg, and is nothing compared with that of our other comrades…The heavy burden in my heart will remain there everyday until we win our fight for democracy.”

Police used tear gas, water cannon and pepper balls and arrested more than 370 people last July 1, when thousands took to the streets hours after China imposed the controversial security law, bypassing the local legislature.

YouTube video

The law, which criminalises acts of secession, subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorism, was promulgated and gazetted on June 30 to take immediate effect. Individuals chanted pro-democracy slogans and waved flags despite the new legislation.

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.