Three student activists arrested under Hong Kong's national security law

Tony Chung, Yanni Ho, William Chan being held on suspicion of promoting secession in months-old social media posts

Tony Chung (left), Yanni Ho (Tawan News, Michael Ho, Daily Record photos)

Tony Chung (left), Yanni Ho (Tawan News, Michael Ho, Daily Record photos)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Three young activists in Hong Kong were arrested Tuesday (Oct. 27) under the city's national security law three months after police first booked them for social media posts that pre-date the draconian piece of legislation that Beijing foisted upon the city after its year-long protests.

At around noon on Tuesday, the Facebook page for the now-disbanded pro-Hong Kong independence student organization Studentlocalism (學生動源) announced that the group's former convener Tony Chung (鍾翰林) had been missing since 8 a.m. that morning, adding that he had been scheduled to check in with a police station later in the day.

The organization Friends of Hong Kong told Apple Daily it had been assisting Chung, whose passport was previously seized by the authorities, in applying for asylum at the American consulate. The consulate has not responded to Taiwan News' request for a comment.

Upon finding that the consulate had not yet opened, Chung, who reportedly said he feared he "might not return" from the station, was said to have waited at a nearby coffee shop. In his last message to Friends of Hong Kong, he said he was being followed, and witnesses claimed to have seen four masked police taking the 19-year-old into custody.

Police later confirmed that Chung had been detained for violating Article 21 of Hong Kong's national security law, which pertains to "secession."

According to subsequent posts on the Studentlocalism Facebook page, Chung's fellow former Studentlocalism members Yanni Ho (何忻諾), 17, and William Chan (陳渭賢), 21, were arrested around 2:00 p.m. after reporting to police in the New Territories and Tuen Mun District, respectively. The page said all three have accepted legal assistance.

In July, the three students became the first political figures to be arrested under Hong Kong's new national security law, which introduced sentences ranging from three years to life imprisonment for the nebulous charges of subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign power.

The Hong Kong Police Force said the trio, along with another male student, had been detained on suspicion of secession based on past social media posts that allegedly advocated Hong Kong independence. This was in spite of assurances by Chinese officials and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) that the new law would not be retroactive.