Local media reporting in Hong Kong is highighting a number of arrests in the buildup to the 25th anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong to China.
According to police reports, two men, aged 28 and 30, were arrested and charged on Wednesday with “doing an act or acts with seditious intention”, which carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail. They were suspected of posting messages on social media that “promote feelings of ill will and enmity between different classes of the population of Hong Kong and incite the use of violence”.
Police have also announced the arrest of three men in relation to a case involving a martial arts coach accused of running an armed separatist movement. This is a case that has been under investigation since March, when two people connected to a martial arts training hall were arrested.
Over the past two years the offence of sedition – which was created by British colonial rulers and had been long criticised as an anti-free-speech law – has been wielded against journalists, unionists, activists, a former pop star and people critical of the government’s response to the Covid pandemic. LGBTQ activists have also been targeted under these laws.
Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020 in the wake of massive democracy protests, which was wielded by officials to crack down on dissent. More than 190 people in Hong Kong have been arrested for national security crimes.
While homosexuality is legal in Hong Kong, and there are some limited anti-discrimination protections in place, the suppression of independent media outlets and the attempts to silence any opposition to the government creates an atmosphere of uncertainty for the LGBTQ community.