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Hong Kong rally arrests

July 4, 2014

Authorities in Hong Kong have detained the organizers of a recent pro-democracy rally. The demonstration, held three days ago, drew a record amount of people and resulted in over 500 arrests.

Tens of thousands of residents gather to march in downtown streets during an annual pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong Tuesday, July 1, 2014. Hong Kong residents began marching through the streets of the former British colony to push for greater democracy in a rally fueled by anger over Beijing's recent warning that it holds the ultimate authority over the southern Chinese financial center. The protest comes days after nearly 800,000 residents voted in a mock referendum aimed at bolstering support for full democracy. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo

Five members of the group behind a huge pro-democracy rally held in Hong Kong this week were arrested on Friday. Charges against them included obstructing police duty.

One of the demonstration's organizers accused the police of political suppression.

"They are making arrests even though we have had such a peaceful procession," protest organizer Johnson Yeung said, before police took him away.

"This isn't about any one reason, this is about political suppression," Yeung added.

The group later issued a statement in response to the arrests.

"It is believed that the members were arrested for moving too slowly," the statement said.

On July 1, thousands of people gathered in protest against China's authoritarian rule, particularly provoked by a policy document released last month by China's cabinet. According to the official document, Hong Kong's autonomy was not inherent but rather authorized by the central government.

Peaceful crowds called for democracy, some chanting "Our own government, our own choice." Others called for Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to resign.

By the next day, the rally reached its peak, drawing half a million people according to the organizers. Authorities estimated that 98,6000 had joined the march. The following day, police cleared a sit-in, detaining over 500 protesters for illegal assembly.

Those arrested earlier in the week have reportedly been released.

While Hong Kong enjoys liberties not seen on the mainland since British rule ended in 1997, there are fears that these freedoms - such as free speech and the right to protest - are being eroded.

kms/rc (AFP, dpa)

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