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Leading pro-democracy activist arrested in Hong Kong for 'unlawful' protest against face-mask ban

The Hong Kong government first banned the wearing of masks last year.

Pro-democracy activist Johsua Wong
Pro-democracy activist Johsua Wong
Image: UPI/PA Images

HONG KONG PRO-democracy activist Joshua Wong has been arrested for “unlawful assembly” relating to a 2019 protest against a government ban on face masks.

The news was confirmed in a statement on the 23-year-old’s Twitter account, which said he was also being held for violating the “draconian anti-mask law”, which has since been ruled unconstitutional.

The Hong Kong government first banned the wearing of masks at demonstrations in October last year, resulting in subsequent protests against the ban across the city. 

Wong, one of the leaders of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, has been imprisoned twice previously for participating in pro-democracy protests against China.

He regularly speaks out against Beijing’s tightening control over the city and often meets with elected officials and politicians from the US and other countries.

Since Beijing imposed a draconian new security law in July, the stakes have risen significantly.

“Every day when I sleep, I can’t imagine when will the police storm into my home,” he said in an interview earlier this month.

“The question for every activist is how much private life is still left?

“How much time we can spend with our friends before the day Beijing arrests us with the national security law?”

The law was designed to stamp out the huge and often violent pro-democracy protests that sprang up across Hong Kong last year.

It targets acts deemed to be secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion and Beijing has described it as a “sword” hanging over the heads of its opponents as it pushes to return stability.

Critics say it has blanketed the city in fear, and UN rights experts warned its broad wording posed a serious risk to Hong Kong’s freedoms.

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In the same interview, Wong also said he has no plans to scale back his activism.

“It seems to be a zero sum game,” he said.

“If they choose not to arrest me, I may still be in Hong Kong, but if they choose to arrest me, I may be extradited to China immediately.

“And that’s the end.”

© – AFP 2020 with reporting by Stephen McDermott.

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