Hong Kong police have started a crackdown on pro-democracy lawmakers and activists, informing at least nine people they will be charged for their involvement in a series of street protests more than two years ago. The charges come a day after Carrie Lam was elected to be the city’s chief executive. Heavily backed by the Chinese government, she has promised to heal divisions in an increasingly polarised political climate; pro-Beijing elites and businesses have repeatedly clashed with grassroots movements demanding more democracy. For nearly three months in 2014, protesters surrounded the main government offices and blocked roads in the heart of Hong Kong’s financial district. While several high-profile cases were brought in the months after, the vast majority of protesters were not charged.
On Monday the government announced it would prosecute two politicians, Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun. The others charged are former student protest leaders Eason Chung and Tommy Cheung, and the founders of the Occupy Central movement, Benny Tai, Rev Chu Yiu-ming and Chan Kin-man. Activist Raphael Wong and former legislator Lee Wing-tat will also be charged.
“This isn’t just my case being prosecuted, it’s prosecution against Hong Kong’s democracy,” Chan said in an interview. “Lam said her first job would be to reunite Hong Kong people and this will make that task much more difficult.”
All nine surrendered to police on Monday, with activists rallying around them in support.