Police in Hong Kong have detained 47 pro-democracy campaigners and politicians on Feb. 28 with charges of conspiracy to commit subversion under the security law.
According to a statement from the police, those arrested for allegedly violating the security law were 39 men and 8 women aged between 23 and 64 and are set to appear before the West Kowloon Magistracy on March 1.
The 47 were among the 55 people who had previously been arrested last January for taking part in an unofficial “primary” election that was held to determine the strongest candidates to run in Hong Kong’s election and to win a majority in the legislature. Chinese officials said the it was an attempt to overthrow the government.
The defendants, which included prominent politicians Benny Tai and Leung Kwok-hung, could face life imprisonment if convicted.
The European Union (EU) in Hong Kong and Macao said that the subversion charges made clear that “legitimate political pluralism will no longer be tolerated in Hong Kong” and called for the immediate release of those detained.
“The EU urges Hong Kong and Beijing authorities to abide by their commitments to fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, as enshrined in the Basic Law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” the office said.
Amnesty International Hong Kong also called for the immediate release of those arrested, describing the charges as “an outrageous attack on peaceful expression and association.
“Hong Kong authorities are using the National Security Law as a pretext to silence political opponents,” Amnesty International Hong Kong also said.
Police in Hong Kong have arrested around 100 people under the security law since it took effect last June.