Hong Kong police arrested 53 former lawmakers and democracy proponents, including an American human rights lawyer, on Wednesday for allegedly violating the new national security law by participating in unofficial election primaries for the territory's legislature last year. The mass arrests were the largest move against Hong Kong's democracy movement since the law was imposed by Beijing last June to quell dissent in the semi-autonomous territory, the AP reports. A video on former lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting's Facebook page showed police arriving at his home and telling him he was "suspected of violating the national security law, subverting state power." Police told those recording the video to stop or risk arrest.
The legislative election that would have followed the unofficial primaries was postponed by a year by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who cited the public health risks during the coronavirus pandemic. Mass resignations and disqualifications of pro-democracy lawmakers have left the legislature largely a pro-Beijing body. All of the pro-democracy candidates in the unofficial primaries were arrested, apart from a few who'd fled the territory. American human rights lawyer John Clancey was also among those taken into custody. Clancey was the treasurer of political group Power for Democracy, which was involved in the unofficial primaries. "We need to work for democracy and human rights in Hong Kong," Clancey said as he was being led away by police.
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