(HONG KONG) JUST IN: Police have arrested five people on sedition charges for publishing children’s books that allegedly incite hatred towards the city’s government #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.23: The arrests were the latest involving suspected critics of Hong Kong’s government that have raised fears about the shrinking space for dissent since Beijing imposed a national security law in June 2020 to put an end to pro-democracy protests in the semi-autonomous city.

HONG KONG: Police arrest publishers of ‘seditious’ children’s books featuring wolves and sheep and the General Union of H.K Speech Therapists could not be reached for comment.

Remember these faces, their trial and this moment in China’s history These people once ran for local office, founded unions and fought for democratic freedoms.

Police said one book, Defenders of the Sheep Village, was connected to the protests.

In the story, wolves want to occupy the village and eat the sheep, who in turn use their horns to fight back.

The two men and three women arrested were members of a speech therapists’ union who produced books for children.

The five were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to publish seditious material under a colonial-era law which had been rarely used before the anti-government protests began in the former British colony.

A person in handcuffs and with a bag over their head is escorted out of a building.
The five people arrested on sedition charges were all members of a speech therapists’ union.(Reuters: Tyrone Siu)

Senior Superintendent Steve Li told a media briefing that police were concerned by the books because the information inside for children “turns their mind and develops a moral standard to be against society”.

Another book told the story of 12 sheep taken by wolves to a beasts’ village where they would be cooked.

Allegedly it could be potentially seen as alluding to the 12 Hong Kong people captured by China in August last year at sea as they tried to flee the city by boat.

Superintendent Li said the story was not factual and incited hatred against authorities.

A third book told the story of wolves sneaking through a hole into a sheep village and shows the wolves as dirty and the sheep as clean.

This aimed to create hatred against the government, Superintendent Li said.

Piles of children's books with Chinese writing on the covers.
All three of the books cited by the police featured wolves and sheep.(Reuters: Tyrone Siu)

First convictions under the sedition law can carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison, the police said.

Now, they’re political prisoners and the faces of dramatic change in Hong Kong.

The arrests came as a Hong Kong court denied bail to four top editors and journalists from the now-defunct Apple Daily pro-democracy newspaper.

They were arrested Wednesday on charges of conspiracy to collude with foreign powers to endanger national security.

So far, eight former employees have been arrested. Apply Daily ceased operations in June after police raided the newspaper’s offices, confiscating hard drives and laptops, and seized its assets.

Authorities have denied any erosion of rights and freedoms in Hong Kong — which returned to China in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula aimed at preserving its freedoms and role as a financial hub — but say China’s national security is a red line.

Security officials have said law enforcement action is based on evidence and has nothing to do with an individual’s political stance, background or profession.

Reuters/AP

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: July.23: 2021:

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