Hong Kong police have charged 47 pro-democracy activists under the national security law on Sunday over their organisation and participation in a primary election for the now-postponed Legislative Council election.

According to the police, 39 men and eight women aged between 23 and 64 were charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion.” They will appear at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Benny Tai
Benny Tai, one of the organisers of the primaries, meeting the press before reporting to the police on Sunday. Photo: Kenny Huang/Studio Incendo.

Primaries organiser Benny Tai, former lawmakers Claudia Mo, Jeremy Tam, Helena Wong and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, district councillors Jimmy Sham, Tiffany Yuen, Clarisse Yeung and Fergus Leung were among those 47 charged.

Among the 55 people arrested back in January, only eight people have not been charged, including US citizen and lawyer John Clancey, former lawmakers Roy Kwong, James To and Joseph Lee, activists Jeffrey Andrews, Lee Chi-yung, Ricky Yuen and Lau Hoi-man.

According to Clancey, the eight will have to report to the police again on May 4. The 47 charged also include self-exiled former lawmaker Ted Hui and activist Sunny Cheung.

“Just like a lawyer friend of mine said: Hong Kong is more and more like a large detention centre,” said Clancey outside the police station. “There is less freedom, may it be education, or newspapers, or many other things, the freedom and rights are being tightened.”

The democrats were detained at police stations on Sunday after they were told to report to the police five weeks prior to their original report date of April 8.

In January, 55 pro-democracy activists were arrested for allegedly attempting to paralyse the government by trying to win a majority with strategic voting at the Legislative Council with their “35+” plan.

democrats pro democracy 35+ legco legislative council primary election 2020 september au nok hin andrew chiu benny tai
Photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.

Under the plan, they would make use of their majority at the legislature to veto important government bills, and eventually oust the chief executive within the parameters of the Basic Law.

If the democrats are convicted, they could face up to life imprisonment under the national security law, which was imposed by Beijing on June 30 last year. It is also more difficult for those accused of violating the law to be granted bail.

‘Historical mission completed’

Ahead of the democrats’ report to the police on Sunday, Power for Democracy, one of the organisers of the primary elections, announced on Saturday that they will immediately cease operations and disband.

Convenor Andrew Chiu said in a Facebook post that Power for Democracy’s work in coordination “has completed its historical mission,” and they will continue to serve Hong Kong society in the future while abiding by the law.

“In the future, we will definitely continue to serve Hong Kong society through different means under the Basic Law, National Security Law, and the framework of One Country, Two Systems, and abide by the law, and maintain Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity,” said Chiu in the post.

Chiu was also charged with conspiring to commit subversion on Sunday.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.