Forty-seven Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigners and activists were charged on Sunday with conspiracy to commit subversion in the largest single crackdown on the opposition under a China-imposed national security law, Reuters informed.
Among them was Sam Cheung, a 27-year-old activist and a participant in an unofficial primary election last summer, who was charged after reporting to a local police station.
“Hong Kongers have a really tough time these days,” he told reporters before entering the station. “I hope everyone won’t give up on Hong Kong … (and) fight on.”
Cheung was arrested in a dawn raid along with 54 other pro-democracy campaigners on Jan. 6 in the largest national security operation since the law passed last June.
They were accused of organising and participating in the unofficial primary last July aimed at selecting the strongest candidates for a legislative council election.
The Hong Kong police said in a statement they had laid a charge against 47 persons with the single count. They will appear in court on Monday morning.
The decision to charge many activists in a single swoop could potentially strike hard at the opposition movement. Those charged included veterans like Leung Kwok-hung, Eddie Chu and Alvin Yeung; former law professor Benny Tai and prominent young campaigners like Lester Shum, Joshua Wong and Owen Chow.
The European Union Office in Hong Kong called for the immediate release of those arrested. “The nature of these charges makes clear that legitimate political pluralism will no longer be tolerated in Hong Kong,” it said in a statement.