Six people have been arrested by Hong Kong’s national security police over the production, publishing and sale of a “seditious” book on the 2019 protests and unrest.
According to local media, three were apprehended during a raid of a Lunar New Year fair at Ginza Plaza in Mong Kok on Tuesday evening by officers from the National Security Department and Customs. The others were arrested in Kowloon and the New Territories.
Alan Keung Ka-wai, the founder of independent news outlet Free HK Media, was among those arrested, Ming Pao and state-backed paper Wenweipo reported.
During the police operation, officers also took down the identity of all stall holders and visitors at the fair.
The police said the six, aged 18 to 62, were “members of an anti-government organisation,” in a statement released on Tuesday evening.
The group was accused of producing and publishing a “seditious book about a series of riots that occurred in Hong Kong from June 2019 to February 2020,” and selling it at the Mong Kok fair between December and January.
“The book’s content advocates for Hong Kong independence, as well as incites others to overthrow the central authorities and Hong Kong’s government, use violence, and flout the law or any lawful orders,” the police said.
Police said they also found other products that “glorified violence or opposed the government” being sold at the same stall.
In total, officers collected 43 copies of the book in question after searching the homes of those arrested, and other related premises.
All six have been remanded in police custody.
Ming Pao and Wenweipo reported that the stall in question was operated by Shame On You Grocery Store. The seller said on its Facebook page that it was publishing a 400-page book about what happened from June 2019 to February 2020 and the publication was being sold at the fair from December 25.
Hong Kong’s sedition law saw its last amendment in the 1970s, when the city was still under British colonial rule. The maximum punishment for the offence is two years of imprisonment.
Independent fair scene
The Mong Kok fair, organised by Dare Media and Be Water Alliance, opened in December 2022 and was expected to operate throughout the Lunar New Year holiday until the end of January.
The Democratic Party was also selling products at the fair to support its members Wu Chi-wai, Lam Cheuk-ting and Andrew Wan. The trio are all in remand over a high-profile national security case, in which 47 pro-democracy activists have been accused of subversion over their roles in a election primary.
Similar independent fairs have popped up across the city in recent years as a substitute for dry goods stalls, which have been absent from Hong Kong’s largest seasonal markets – the Lunar New Year fairs – for four consecutive years.
In the past, political and satirical products were a staple at Lunar New Year fairs.
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