Hong Kong protest leaders arrested before weekend rallies

By Jessie Yeung, Helen Regan, Steve George and Jenni Marsh, CNN

Updated 5:12 a.m. ET, September 1, 2019
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8:00 a.m. ET, August 30, 2019

Our live coverage of Friday's series of arrests in Hong Kong has ended. Read the story here.

7:09 a.m. ET, August 30, 2019

Joshua Wong: One country, two systems has eroded to "one-and-a-half systems"

On the courthouse steps Friday evening, pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong faced the cameras alongside Agnes Chow, who was also arrested earlier in the day for charges relating to a protest on June 21.

Wong said: "We (are) strongly aware of how President Xi Jinping and the Beijing government are the ones who back and endorse the Hong Kong police to conduct such a mass arrest and prosecution.

"It just implies that the one country, two systems (set up) has already eroded to one country, one-and-a-half systems. High degree autonomy is strongly being eroded under the chilling effect of troops moving to the border ... Beijing just continuously manipulates on Hong Kong people’s freedom and we shall never surrender.

Afterwards, Chow made a statement.

She said: "We can see very clearly that the regime and the Hong Kong government is trying to create a white terror to try to scare Hong Kong people to not participate in the social and democratic movement of the future.

"But, we, Hong Kong people won’t give up and won’t be scared of this white terror and injustice. We will keep on fighting for democracy and five demands of Hong Kong people, including a complete retraction of the extradition law and independent investigation over police violence and also the most important thing is the universal suffrage and a democratic political system in Hong Kong."

The pair both face the charge of "inciting others to participate in unlawful assembly," which can carry a five-year jail term. They will reappear in court on November 8.

6:53 a.m. ET, August 30, 2019

Ivan Lam appears on charge sheet

Demosisto's chairman Ivan Lam has appeared on a charge sheet alongside Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow.

Lam, 25, is charged with "incitement to take part in an unauthorized assembly." The offense carries a potential five-year jail sentence.

Earlier on Friday, Demosisto said on twitter that Lam had not been arrested.

6:50 a.m. ET, August 30, 2019

Chinese government had rejected Chief Executive's proposal to withdraw the extradition bill: Reuters

The Chinese government earlier this summer rejected a proposal by embattled Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam to withdraw the controversial extradition bill, according to a Reuters report on Friday.

Hong Kong has been gripped by political unrest since early June, following the attempted introduction of the now-shelved extradition bill.

Protesters had demanded that the bill -- which many feared could be used to spirit critics of Beijing across the border to be tried under China's legal system -- be permanently withdrawn.

Lam submitted a report to China that assessed the protesters’ primary demands and found that withdrawing the bill could help to resolve the crisis, according to the report.

Beijing dismissed Lam’s suggestion and ordered her not to accede to any of the protesters’ other key demands at the time, the report said, citing three individuals with direct knowledge of the matter.

According to Reuters, Lam’s report was made in advance of meeting in the Chinese city of Shenzhen on August 7 with senior mainland officials, almost two months after the protest movement began.

In addition to the full withdrawal of the bill, other protest demands outlined in Lam’s report included an independent inquiry into the protests, fully democratic elections, the removal of the term “riot” in describing protests, and scrapping all charges against those arrested so far.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to the street to support the protests and voice their dissatisfaction with the city's government and its policies over the course of the summer.

Lam's administration considered both the withdrawal of the bill and an independent inquiry as a potential means of reducing support for the movement among moderates.

Earlier this week, Lam appeared to appeal for greater dialogue, while not accepting the protesters' five demands.

China has continued to publicly back the Hong Kong government while condemning the protesters. On Friday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated that the central government “supports, respects and understands” the Hong Kong government’s position regarding the five demands set out by protesters.

CNN has reached out to the Hong Kong-Macao Affairs Office and the Office of Chief Executive Carrie Lam for comment on the Reuters report.


6:01 a.m. ET, August 30, 2019

More than 900 people arrested this summer

More than 900 people have been arrested since mass demonstrations began on June 9, according to police. They've been charged with a range of offenses including "taking part in a riot," unlawful assembly, assaulting police officers, resisting arrest and possession of offensive weapons.

The youngest person who has been arrested is 12 years old.

5:46 a.m. ET, August 30, 2019

Here's your 5.45pm round up

Hong Kong police have arrested seven pro-democracy activists in the past 24 hours, in a sweeping round up of some of the city's protest figureheads. The arrested include:

Rick Hui, pro-democracy politician from the Sha Tin District Council

Agnes Chow, former Legislative Council candidate of pro-democracy group Demosisto

Joshua Wong, 2014 Umbrella Revolution leader and Demosisto leader

Andy Chan, founder of the outlawed pro-independence Hong Kong National Party

The other three arrestees have not been named by officials.

According to police, two were women arrested on suspicion of breaking into Hong Kong's Legislative Council on July 1, and the third is a 59-year-old man suspected of rioting at Yuen Long station on July 13.

The arrests came ahead of a massive pro-democracy march planned for Saturday, but which was canceled by organizers today. Police expect protesters to show up anyway.

As the protests enter their 13th consecutive week, the past 7 days have seen escalating tensions. Last Sunday, a Hong Kong police officer fired a live shot into the air during protests for the first time.

Then in the week, Chief Executive Carrie Lam refused to rule out invoking emergency powers and a prominent protest organizer was attacked by masked men carrying baseball bats and knives.

Amnesty International called Friday's arrests a tactic "straight out of Beijing’s playbook."

5:50 a.m. ET, August 30, 2019

Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow granted bail

Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, of the Demosisto pro-democracy group, have been granted bail.

The pair are expected to speak to press shortly.

3:52 a.m. ET, August 30, 2019

Police arrest outspoken pro-democracy politician

Outspoken pro-democracy politician Rick Hui was arrested on Friday. Police have also arrested three high-profile activists in the past 24 hours.

Hui, a member of the Sha Tin District Council, was arrested on suspicion of “obstructing the police officers in the performance of their duty," police said in a statement.

The accusation relates to Hui’s alleged participation in a rally in Sha Tin in the city's New Territories. Hui remains in police custody.

Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Andy Chan were arrested on suspicion of protest-related offenses.

The most serious charge that Wong and Chow face is “inciting others to participate in unlawful assembly," which carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail if convicted.

3:29 a.m. ET, August 30, 2019

Hong Kong's summer of discontent has overtaken the Umbrella Movement

From James Griffiths, CNN

No one predicted this.

In 2014, when the final protesters were cleared from Hong Kong's streets after 79 days of pro-democracy protests -- many of them forcibly carried off by police -- they promised they'd be back.

For years that seemed like a pipe dream. But this summer has proved not so.

Four years and eight months and 12 days after the Umbrella Movement ended, on Tuesday this week the current protests surpassed the Umbrella Movement in duration and massively overtook it in terms of disruption and political turmoil.

And they show no signs of stopping.

Hong Kong protesters promised to return after the last Umbrella Movement activists left the streets in December 2014.
Hong Kong protesters promised to return after the last Umbrella Movement activists left the streets in December 2014.

As the protests enter their 13th weekend the complete withdrawal of the now-shelved bill that would have allowed extradition to mainland China remains a priority. But protesters have also expanded their demands to include the driving issue of the 2014 protests: Genuine democracy in how the city picks its leader.

The Umbrella Movement, a brief explainer:

When the British handed Hong Kong back to Chinese control in 1997, the city switched from having a London-picked governor to a local Chief Executive, selected by an "election committee" and officially appointed by Beijing. 

But the ultimate aim was for the city's leader to be elected "by universal suffrage."

In 2014, however, China's leaders ruled out full universal suffrage, saying that candidates could be elected by the public -- only after they had been approved by a Beijing-dominated nomination committee.

Most democratic activists and lawmakers rejected the deal as a sham and it was eventually defeated in the city's legislature after a botched walkout by pro-government legislators.

In the interim, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers occupied parts of the city for 79-days, demanding Beijing withdraw its decision and allow the chief executive to be elected by "genuine universal suffrage."

After the use of tear gas in the early hours of the protests backfired spectacularly, bringing more people to the streets, authorities took a largely hands-off approach, and the Umbrella Movement had gradually fizzled out by the time police cleared the last dedicated protesters in December 2014.