Nine, Including Schoolchildren, Arrested in Hong Kong Over Alleged Explosives Plot

City leader Carrie Lam calls on teachers, parents, and church leaders to monitor young people's behavior and report them to police if necessary.
2021-07-06
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Nine, Including Schoolchildren, Arrested in Hong Kong Over Alleged Explosives Plot Hong Kong police announce the arrest of nine people, including high school students, in an alleged bomb plot, July 6, 2021.
RFA

Authorities in Hong Kong have arrested nine people, including high-school students as young as 15, on suspicion of allegedly "preparing" to make explosives.

"Five males and four females have been arrested by the national security police on suspicion of "organizing a terrorist attack" and "running an explosives laboratory," Hong Kong's police force said in a statement on its Facebook page.

The suspects included six secondary school students, and were part of a group called Returning Valiant, national security police senior superintendent Steve Li told journalists on Tuesday.

Police displayed a number of items they said were seized from a hostel room where the arrestees were allegedly "preparing" to make explosives, based on the presence of "chemicals that could be turned into TATP."

Li claimed that the group planned to detonate explosives in cars and trash bins.

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam called for the close "monitoring" of children and young people to prevent them from being "indoctrinated" through unsupervised use of the internet.

In comments that appeared to point to further internet censorship in a city that has large enjoyed unfettered access to the internet outside of China's Great Firewall, Lam warned that "bomb threats" and other threats of violence were still present in "individualized behavior" even in the absence of street protests.

"[This] violence ... will become a hidden danger for the city of Hong Kong," Lam said.

"I ... call on parents, principals, teachers, and even pastors to carefully observe the behavior of the young people around them," she said. "If young people or people around them are found to be committing illegal activities, they must report them to the law enforcement agencies."

Law widely criticized

China's imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong from July 1, 2020 has been widely criticized by foreign governments and rights organizations as a means for the authorities to roll back human rights protections that were promised to the city's seven million inhabitants under the terms of the 1997 handover.

The law criminalizes public dissent and publications critical of the government, and has led to an ever-widening crackdown on opposition lawmakers, rights activists, and journalists critical of Chinese and Hong Kong officials.

Defendants under the law are often denied bail, and cases brought under the law are heard by a panel of hand-picked judges, rather than by a jury, as was previously the norm in the Hong Kong legal system.

Meanwhile, a court in Hong Kong on Tuesday jailed an American lawyer for four months and two weeks after finding him guilty of "assaulting a police officer."

Samuel Bickett, 37, a former Asia-Pacific compliance director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch was found guilty last month and denied bail.

Magistrate Arthur Lam described Bickett’s crime as a “serious threat to public order,” saying that Bickett’s actions might have incited others to violence.

Bickett has said the officer he allegedly assaulted was attacking people with a baton in a subway station, and wrote in a statement before his conviction that the verdict was "entirely unsupportable by both the law and the evidence in this case."

Reported by Chan Yun Nam for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Jia Ao for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Johnny Ro
Johnny Ro says:
Jul 06, 2021 08:19 PM

The HK law, long overdue, compares favorably, does it not, with the US homeland Security Law and associated legal package? Guatanamo.

And in UK, the state has even broader powers to stop separatist violence.

These people are assembling bombs, stop them. Case closed.

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