Then, on Sunday afternoon, pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong deployed to police stations across the province, with more than 40 of them formally accused of “conspiring to commit sabotage” under the National Security Act, according to the police. Arrested on the spot, they will be held overnight for a court hearing on Monday, and face life imprisonment if found guilty. The accusation of such a large group represents the harshest and broadest use of Beijing’s national security law in Hong Kong to date, by and large. Increase the number of people subject to strict legislation. Friends and family fear they will be denied bail and instead remain in pretrial detention, like the five previously held under the law – a major departure from Hong Kong’s common law system. The charges now mean that every prominent, even moderate, dissident voice in Hong Kong is now either in prison or in exile, crushing the city’s democratic aspirations as Beijing tightens its grip on the city’s essential institutions. “None of us knew it was going to be this way today,” Tiffany Yuen said in an interview before entering the police station in the area she represents as an elected local official. Hiding her tears behind her new pink glasses, the 27-year-old said she had no regrets, “We can’t judge whether our choices are right or wrong based on the consequences now,” Yuen said. “This was our responsibility, which as a citizen of Hong Kong, you want to assume at that moment.” On Sunday, the defendants were among more than 50 Hong Kong residents arrested in January under the Security Act, accused of sabotaging a preliminary vote in July ahead of the legislative elections. Those legislative elections were eventually postponed, and some were barred from running in them anyway, illustrating how Beijing is using the full force of the laws at hand to stamp out opposition and political opposition in the city. They were forced to hand over their phones and passports, but were released. Accusations on Sunday intensified of the persecution of Hong Kong activists, who Beijing considers responsible for stoking the anti-government sentiment that led to mass protests in 2019, even though the movement was largely lacking leadership. A deterrent, but effective tool used against any opposition. The National Security Act, completely drafted by Beijing and passed without any consultation in Hong Kong, criminalizes loosely worded crimes such as “secession”, “sabotage”, “terrorism” and “collusion with foreign forces.” The law changed Hong Kong and its institutions, including schools, the media, the legislature and the courts, undermining the autonomy promised to the territory that was supposed to be preserved until 2047, and among the accused is Benny Tai, who helped organize the informal primaries. Tai, the legal researcher and activist who launched protests in 2014 that escalated into a 79-day occupation of city streets, said the primaries represented a new form of civil disobedience, and he hoped the Democratic camp would be able to win a majority in the primaries, which emerged Held just days after Beijing enacted a new security law, it was an early test of how far the law would go to not only curb protests – which fizzled out during the outbreak – but also neutralize any political opposition. More than expected, more than 600,000 people participated, choosing candidates who were more radical and opposed to any cooperation with Beijing over the supporters of the more moderate pro-democracy camp. Among those accused on Sunday were those who appeared as winners, including Yuen, Lester Shum, Owen Chau and former lawmaker Eddie Chu.Among the defendants were a former journalist, former lawmakers and a nurse who led a strike by medical workers in the early days. The epidemic here, pushing for a complete closure of the borders with China. He also charged prominent activist Joshua Wong, who is now serving a prison sentence, for a minor offense. John Clancy, an American priest-turned attorney who was arrested as part of the group in January, has not been charged, along with a few other people, and it was Chow, who was 24, and who was born within the year of Hong Kong’s extradition. , Buddhist. A mantra was drawn on his arm after he learned that he would be called to the police station on Sunday. He said he hoped that would give him the power to arrest. “Whether we are on the streets, in jail or outside, hope will always be required for us to continue waging this endless battle,” Zhao said in brief comments outside the security department. Good luck to all of you there. About six supporters, some of them crying, embraced the former nursing student before stepping through the station’s sliding glass doors. There, like the other 46, officers read his accusations before taking him into custody.