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HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong police on Thursday arrested five union members, and a court refused bail for four editors and journalists detained for endangering national security amid growing crackdown of dissent in the city.
The five arrested are members of the Hong Kong General Association of Speech-Language Pathologists, according to local media.
The association has published three children’s books that authorities apparently suspect are metaphors for the political crisis. The books feature stories that revolve around a sheep village that has to deal with wolves from another village. The sheep are taking action, such as going on strike or escaping by boat, according to the synopses published on the association’s website.
Police confirmed that they arrested two men and three women from a union, but did not identify them or the union.
Police say they are suspected of conspiring to publish, distribute, display or copy seditious publications with intent to incite hatred, violence and other acts against the law towards the Hong Kong authorities and justice by the public, especially young children. .
Police said it also froze HK $ 160,000 ($ 20,600) in union-related assets.
On Thursday, a Hong Kong court denied bail to four editors and reporters at the former pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily. They were arrested on Wednesday for conspiring to come to an agreement with foreign powers to endanger national security.
So far, eight former employees have been arrested. Apply Daily ceased operations in June after $ 2.3 million in assets were frozen and police raided the newspaper’s offices, confiscating hard drives and laptops.
After months of anti-government protests in 2019, Beijing last year imposed a sweeping national security law in the semi-autonomous city that critics say restricts the freedoms promised to the former British colony that cannot be found in mainland China.
The law criminalizes secessionism, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion in city affairs. Since its implementation, more than 100 pro-democracy supporters have been arrested and many more have fled abroad.