China detains activists for supporting Hong Kong protests: rights groups

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SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)

Authorities have detained more than a dozen activists across China and questioned as many as 60 others who expressed support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests in recent days, campaign groups said Wednesday.

The clampdown comes with Beijing’s propaganda machine in overdrive to suppress news of the protests, which are expected to draw their biggest crowds yet as the former British colony begins a two-day public holiday Wednesday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has stayed silent on the protests, but in remarks Tuesday night commemorating the 65th anniversary Wednesday of Communist China’s founding, he insisted that “we must never separate ourselves from the people”.

It was unclear whether the remarks were intended to refer to Hong Kong.

Since the dramatic escalation on Sunday of the Hong Kong protests, “a number of Chinese citizens have faced reprisals” for voicing their support, according to the overseas-based advocacy group China Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).

The group, which has compiled accounts from campaigners within China, said at least a dozen people had been detained and several others threatened.

Amnesty International put the figures even higher, saying at least 20 were detained and another 60 called in for questioning.

“The rounding up of activists in mainland China only underlines why so many people in Hong Kong fear the growing control Beijing has in their city’s affairs,” Amnesty’s China researcher William Nee said in a statement. The group called on Chinese authorities to “immediately release all those being detained for peacefully expressing their support for protesters in Hong Kong”.

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