Response to mass arrest of pro-democracy activists and organisers for participating and organizing the 35+ primaries

Hong Kong – The Hong Kong Police Force today (6 January) arrested 53 pro-democracy
activists and organisers for subverting state power by participating and organizing the “35+ Civil
Voting” in last July (for details, see List of Arrestee). “Such mass arrest is yet another attempt of
the authority weaponising the National Security Law (“NSL”) to suppress dissents and
criminalise peaceful participation in public affairs. It seriously tramples over the basic human
rights of Hong Kong people enshrined in the Basic Law”, says spokesperson of Civil Rights
Observer.

Every citizen shall have the rights and opportunity to directly or indirectly take part in public
affairs. The provision of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”)
prohibits anyone to be discriminated against, unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged by the State
solely on account of their political opinions or beliefs; political parties shall enjoy the freedom to
choose and pursue ideologies, even if these are unpopular with the authorities (Note 1).
Long established in Hong Kong, the separation of powers between the executive, legislative,
and judicial branches have allowed them to operate independently, providing checks and
balances against one another. Legislators functioning in accordance with the Basic Law and
other laws of Hong Kong – including to table an impeachment motion of the Chief Executive, to
approve or reject the public budget. Such acts should never be considered as criminal acts of
subverting state power nor endangering the national security, no matter whether the
government agrees with them.

Note 1: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of
association. A/68/299.

Background
“35+ Civil Voting” are unofficial primaries took place on 11 and 12 July 2020 that received a high
turnout of over 600 thousand votes. The primaries aimed to consolidate the final list of
nominated candidates to win at least 35 elected seats and take a majority in 2020 Legislative
Council Election which was subsequently postponed for a year.
On the following day that the primaries, the government had warned might have breached
subversion under the National Security Law by intending to exercise legislators’ veto power
entitled in the Basic Law over the Budget. Five months later, over 1000 police officers took part
in the operation arresting 53 pro-democracy activists and organisers on 6 January 2021.

List of Arrestee: https://bit.ly/3bauagg

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