First ar­rests made un­der se­cu­rity law

Sus­pects were ar­rested for in­cite­ment to com­mit se­ces­sion dur­ing un­law­ful rally

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - HONG KONG - By GANG WEN in Hong Kong gang­wen@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Hong Kong po­lice ar­rested 10 peo­ple on Wed­nes­day on sus­pi­cion of vi­o­lat­ing the newly pro­mul­gated na­tional se­cu­rity law, as of­fi­cials said that a ded­i­cated po­lice unit has been set up to han­dle such crimes.

The sus­pects were ac­cused of in­cite­ment to com­mit se­ces­sion dur­ing an un­law­ful rally on Hong Kong Is­land that be­came vi­o­lent and led to van­dal­ism. Most of the sus­pects dis­played or car­ried ma­te­rial ad­vo­cat­ing Hong Kong in­de­pen­dence.

Ac­cord­ing to the law, which took ef­fect at 11 pm on Tues­day, any­one who in­cites oth­ers to com­mit se­ces­sion is guilty of vi­o­lat­ing the act. The max­i­mum penalty is 10 years’ im­pris­on­ment.

The Law of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China on Safe­guard­ing Na­tional Se­cu­rity in the Hong Kong Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion crim­i­nal­izes four cat­e­gories of of­fenses —se­ces­sion, sub­ver­sion, ter­ror­ism, and col­lu­sion with for­eign or ex­ter­nal forces to en­dan­ger na­tional se­cu­rity.

The max­i­mum penalty for each cat­e­gory is life im­pris­on­ment, while some mi­nor of­fenses are li­able of im­pris­on­ment of less than three years.

On Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, thou­sands of peo­ple gath­ered in Cause­way Bay and Wan Chai. The il­le­gal as­sem­bly lasted un­til night­fall, with some rad­i­cals as­sault­ing po­lice of­fi­cers, smash­ing shops, com­mit­ting ar­son, and van­dal­iz­ing road fa­cil­i­ties along the route they fol­lowed. More than 370 peo­ple were ar­rested.

Some protesters also chanted slo­gans and dis­played flags or ban­ners that pub­licly ad­vo­cated se­ces­sion and sub­ver­sion. For the first time, po­lice on the scene raised a pur­ple flag as a warn­ing against such be­hav­ior.

In a state­ment, the SAR govern­ment con­demned the un­law­ful acts and ex­pressed sup­port for the po­lice to strictly en­force the na­tional se­cu­rity law and other laws of the city.

Also on Wed­nes­day, Sec­re­tary for

The po­lice force has es­tab­lished a des­ig­nated unit ear­lier in the day to en­force the na­tional se­cu­rity law. The unit shares the ma­jor re­spon­si­bil­ity for the law’s en­force­ment, and the city’s other five dis­ci­pline forces will fa­cil­i­tate its work.’’ John Lee Ka-chiu, sec­re­tary for se­cu­rity

Se­cu­rity John Lee Ka-chiu re­vealed at a news con­fer­ence that the po­lice force has es­tab­lished a des­ig­nated unit ear­lier in the day to en­force the na­tional se­cu­rity law.

Lee said the unit shares the ma­jor re­spon­si­bil­ity for the law’s en­force­ment, and the city’s other five dis­ci­pline forces will fa­cil­i­tate its work. He added that to en­sure the ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the law, the govern­ment will pre­pare suf­fi­cient man­power, re­sources, and train­ings to as­sist the unit.

The unit will be headed by a deputy com­mis­sioner of the force, and the can­di­date hasn’t been de­cided yet, Lee said.

Ac­cord­ing to the law, the ma­jor func­tion of the unit is to in­ves­ti­gate na­tional se­cu­rity cases and col­lect re­lated in­tel­li­gence. It can also re­cruit ex­perts out­side Hong Kong to as­sist in en­forc­ing na­tional se­cu­rity work.

The law has granted cer­tain pow­ers to the po­lice when en­forc­ing the law. In ad­di­tion to re­strict­ing sus­pects to leave the city and freez­ing prop­er­ties used or in­tended to be used for crim­i­nal pur­poses, lo­cal of­fi­cers can also in­ter­cept sus­pects’ com­mu­ni­ca­tions and con­duct covert sur­veil­lance with the ap­proval of the Hong Kong chief ex­ec­u­tive.

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