Clashes in Parliament: Hong Kong opposition elected officials arrested

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Seven members of the pro-democracy Hong Kong opposition were arrested on Sunday for their involvement in clashes in May in the Legislative Council (LegCo), the local parliament, when the former British colony is the subject of a strong takeover by Beijing.

The seven, including four deputies, were arrested for “contempt” and “obstruction” to the work of LegCo members, police said.

Only half of the members of this chamber are elected by universal suffrage, the others being appointed according to a complex legal system which systematically ensures a majority for the pro-Beijing bloc.

Clashes are frequent in LegCo, the pro-democracy opposition largely using its few legal powers to obstruct and try to prevent the vote of texts to which it opposes.

On May 8, clashes crystallized around the leadership of the House Committee whose role is to review bills before they are considered.

This committee then had no leader since October 2019 and pro-democracy elected officials had for months managed to prevent the appointment of a new leader.

That afternoon, one of the pro-Beijing, Starry Lee, had settled in the chair of the leader, hiding behind a legal analysis written by government lawyers supporting him.

But opposition officials, putting forward their own legal arguments, accused her of violating the law.

Chaos then took hold of the room. Security agents and pro-Beijing politicians lined up around Lee as pro-democracy people tried to impose their own candidate for the post. One had even tried to climb a wall to get to the stand.

Security agents then forcibly evacuated several pro-democracy elected officials, while rival parliamentarians carried signs and filmed with their phones and broadcast this confusion live with their social networks.

On Sunday, the police attacked pro-democracy exclusively in the latest offensive against opposition to central Chinese power.

Universal suffrage is a crucial demand of the pro-democracy camp, which was at the heart of the mobilizations of 2014 and 2019.

The former British colony experienced its worst political crisis from June to December 2019 since its handover to China in 1997, with often violent protests denouncing Beijing’s increasingly strong interference in the affairs of its semi-region. autonomous.

The coronavirus epidemic has helped reduce protest on the streets, but the resentment of part of the population has not disappeared.

And in response to last year’s unrest, Beijing imposed on Hong Kong at the end of June, bypassing LegCo, a drastic national security law that gives authorities new powers to crack down on four types of crimes against state security: subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with outside forces.

More than 10,000 people have been arrested in Hong Kong since June 2019 and the courts are overwhelmed with the number of cases to be tried.

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