Hong Kong to arrest democracy protest leaders: activists

HONG KONG: A day after Hong Kong picked a new pro-Beijing leader, police are planning to arrest student leaders and other prominent figures involved with the huge 2014 "Umbrella Movement" pro-democracy protests, activists said Monday.

Police have informed nine people that they will be charged with committing a public nuisance, the Demosisto political party said.

Hong Kong police did not reply to inquiries.

The crackdown, which comes more than two years after the end of the massive protests, could reignite political tensions in Hong Kong as the city prepares for its leadership transfer.

Beijing loyalist Carrie Lam promised to mend political divisions after she was named Hong Kong's next leader on Sunday.

But the arrests will likely stoke doubts about the authorities' intentions among residents already worried about mainland China's tightening grip on the semiautonomous city.

Those targeted for arrest include two university professors, Benny Tai and Chan Kin-man, and the Rev. Chu Yiu-ming. They founded a civil disobedience campaign that helped spark the 79-day protests demanding free elections for the city's top leader.

Others informed about their impending arrests include former student leaders Eason Chung and Tommy Cheung as well as three current and former pro-democracy lawmakers, Demosisto said.

Chan, who said she was called by police, said that "after all these years, first of all the timing, it's very strange. It seems to be a well-designed plan of C.Y.," referring to Hong Kong's current leader, Leung Chun-ying, who is highly unpopular because of his hard-line stance against the protesters.

He will be replaced in July by Lam, who will take over a city split by political divisions and fears that Beijing is undermining the "one country, two systems" framework that promises Hong Kong high autonomy from the mainland.

Lam pledged "to heal the divide and to ease the frustrations and to unite our society to move forward." But Chan said the arrests will make that more difficult.