Britain, Canada, Australia and the United States condemned the mass arrests of activists in Hong Kong under a controversial national security law, in a joint statement from their foreign ministers released Sunday.
More than 50 people, including prominent lawmakers, were arrested on suspicion of subversion on Wednesday in the largest crackdown on the pro-democracy camp since the new law came into force on June 30.
A major crackdown on pro-democracy activists took place in Hong Kong on Wednesday, with more than 50 people arrested on suspicion of subversion under the territory’s national security law.
The arrests relate to an unofficial primary election held on July 11 and 12 in which 610,000 people turned out at polling stations to vote for democratic candidates to run for a seat in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council Election.
Dubbed “Democrat Camp 35+ Primary Election,” it aimed at giving the opposition camp a majority in the Legislative Council, enabling them to veto legislation.
Critics of the law, imposed by Beijing, have said it aims to crush dissent in Hong Kong and undermines the “one country, two systems” agreement that guaranteed Hong Kong extra freedoms until 2047 as part of the conditions for Britain returning the colony to China in 1997.
Alongside subversion, the law targets secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
“It is clear that the National Security Law is being used to eliminate dissent and opposing political views,” the four nations said in their statement.
“We call on the Hong Kong and Chinese central authorities to respect the legally guaranteed rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong without fear of arrest and detention.”