Hong Kong activists released after handover protest

Hong Kong activists released after handover protest

  • 30 June 2017
  • From the section China

Members of political parties Demosisto, the League of Social Democrats and People Power stand on the six-meter-high Golden Bauhinia statue during a protest in Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong, China, 28 June 2017Image copyright

Image caption

Some protesters had chained themselves to the sculpture on Wednesday night

Hong Kong police have released several activists detained for staging a protest ahead of the territory’s handover anniversary.

The city is holding a series of lavish events to mark 20 years since it was handed back to China by Britain.

Chinese president Xi Jinping is in Hong Kong and inspected troops at a local garrison on Friday morning. He is expected to attend a banquet later.

Security is tight with large protests planned amid a tense political climate.

On Wednesday, pro-democracy activists including student leader Joshua Wong and legislator Nathan Law surrounded and climbed into a golden sculpture of a bauhinia flower, Hong Kong’s emblem.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionStudent leader Joshua Wong was dragged away by police officers

The sculpture, which sits by the city’s harbourfront, was a gift from China and an iconic landmark symbolising the handover.

Police later arrested the 26 activists, who were calling for greater political freedoms and protesting against the perceived growing influence of Beijing. They also called for the release of terminally ill Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

The political party Demosisto, founded by Mr Wong and Mr Law, said on its Twitter account on Friday morning that all its arrested members were released.

Mr Wong tweeted that he was detained for “breaking the ‘public nuisance’ law”.

Police said in a statement the activists had been released on bail and must report back to police in September. They have not been charged, reported AFP news agency.

Read more about Hong Kong since the handover:

Their protest was the second one this week at the monument – activists had earlier draped a large black flag over the sculpture and were stopped by police.

Image copyright

Image caption

Mr Xi inspected troops at a military garrison in Hong Kong on Friday morning

Several demonstrations, including the annual 1 July pro-democracy march, have been planned for this weekend.

There is growing concern that the Chinese central government is undermining Hong Kong’s more politically liberal traditions, despite its promise to give it a high degree of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” principle.

The pro-Beijing camp is also planning its own protests.

A series of official celebrations will be held this weekend, as well as the inauguration of Hong Kong’s incoming chief executive Carrie Lam.

Mr Xi gave a short speech on Thursday after his arrival where he pledged Beijing’s support for Hong Kong, and later met with the city’s outgoing leader Leung Chun-ying and other officials.