A man was arrested for holding a flag that read “Hong Kong Independence,” the first arrest made under the Hong Kong security law as it came into effect on Wednesday.
“A man was arrested for holding a Hong Kong Independence flag in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, violating the National Security Law,” said Hong Kong police on its Twitter account. “This is the first arrest made since the law has come into force.” It has been reported that the man did not resist the arrest.
This shows the new reality facing Hong Kong brought by the new law. “Hong Kong Independence” flags had been used in previous anti-China demonstrations, which was not punishable then. However, the new security law criminalizes secession and collusion with foreign forces for independence. Such acts can be sentenced to a minimum of three years in prison or fines with the maximum being a life sentence.
Opposition parties and civic groups had announced plans for protests to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the handover from Britain to China, but the demonstrations did not take place because the streets were blockaded by the police. Ming Pao, a local newspaper, reported that 30 arrests were made under the new security law while demonstrators chanted and held up signs sporadically. “A veteran pro-democracy legislator, Lee Cheuk Yan, had been dragged down from a podium by police,” said The Guardian, quoting a Twitter user who also took part in the protest.
Ki-Yong Kim email@example.com