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Hong Kong lawmakers hand themselves in to police over protests

Monday, March 2, 2015 - 10:43

[HONG KONG] Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers handed themselves in to police on Monday over their involvement in mass protests for free elections, the latest step in a widespread investigation which has been accused of intimidation.

Police have vowed to investigate the "principal instigators" of the street blockades which ended in December when rally camps were cleared.

A number of protest leaders have been arrested and released without charge, in a controversial procedure which some say is harassment.

Albert Ho and Helena Wong, both of the Democratic Party, turned themselves in at Wan Chai police headquarters on Monday morning after being requested to attend.

Each of them was holding a small yellow paper umbrella - the symbol of the democracy movement - as supporters shouted: "We want universal suffrage." "We Hongkongers who have tried to fight for true democracy are not the ones who have done something wrong... it is the ridiculous Hong Kong and Chinese governments taking away our democratic nominations," Wong said before she went inside.

The street protests which began in September and lasted for more than two months were sparked after Beijing said that candidates for the 2017 vote for Hong Kong's next leader would be vetted by a loyalist committee.

Campaigners dismiss that as "fake democracy", but Hong Kong's leadership says that any public vote must take place within Beijing's framework and has granted no concessions over the vote.

Prominent student leaders including the teenage face of the protests, Joshua Wong, have already been through the police procedure, which saw them formally arrested and questioned when they handed themselves in, then released without charge hours later.

Police said they reserved the right to prosecute those who were released.

Both Chow and Wong questioned the process, saying police should charge them if they had the evidence.

"It engenders a sense of uncertainty and they are using that, in my view, as a method of control," said Michael Vidler, the lawyer representing Joshua Wong, after the teenager was released.

"These pre-arranged arrests are a waste of resources and money," former lawmaker Audrey Eu, who will also turn herself in Monday afternoon, told supporters.

"The police are trying to intimidate Hong Kong people," she added, saying that she was being brought in for inciting and organising an unauthorised assembly.

Former lawmaker and veteran campaigner Martin Lee also handed himself in Monday morning to shouts of "Go, Martin, go" from supporters.

Pro-democracy lawmaker Charles Mok was due to attend the police station later Monday.

AFP