Hong Kong arrests eight more activists as crackdown on opposition shows no sign of let-up

(Reuters) – Hong Kong police arrested eight more activists on Tuesday over anti-government protests last year, the latest move in a relentless crackdown on opposition forces in the Chinese-ruled city.

The police did not identify the people, saying only that they were aged between 24 and 64. Local media said former pro-democracy lawmaker and veteran activist Leung Kwok-hung, known as Long Hair, was among those arrested.

The move comes a day after eight people aged between 16 and 34 were arrested, including three on suspicion of violating a sweeping national security law, over a brief demonstration at a university campus last month.

Beijing imposed the legislation on its freest city in June, saying it was vital to plug gaping holes in national security defences exposed by months of sometimes violent anti-government and anti-China protests that rocked the city over the last year.

The law punishes what Beijing broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in jail.

Opposition politicians and Western governments fear the law is being used to suppress dissent and erode wide-ranging freedoms guaranteed to the former British colony when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

On Monday, the United States announced further sanctions to punish Beijing for imposing the law on Hong Kong, escalating tensions between the two sides.