On 9 March 2023, Hong Kong police arrested Elizabeth Tang, the General Secretary of the International Domestic Workers Federation and former chief executive of the now disbanded Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, for allegedly “colluding with foreign forces” and “endangering national security”. The arrest happened after Tang visited her husband, Lee Cheuk-yan (a former pro-democracy legislator and trade union leader) in prison. (In April 2021, Lee Cheuk-yan had been convicted of organising unauthorised assemblies and sentenced to 14 months imprisonment).
A few days later, Tang’s sister (Marilyn Tang) as well as lawyer Frederick Ho (who is the brother of veteran pro-democracy politician Albert Ho) were also arrested for allegedly removing evidence from Tang’s home.
On 21 March 2023, Albert Ho (who was already on bail in relation to various NSL charges) was arrested again and remanded in custody for allegedly perverting the course of justice by contacting one of the family members of a witness in the ‘47 democrats’ case. On 29 March 2023, the UN Human Rights Office urged the Hong Kong government to release Albert Ho due to his critical medical condition. However, the plea was ignored by the Hong Kong authorities.
This series of arrests of the family members of high-profile pro-democracy leaders demonstrate a systematic and organised approach adopted by the Hong Kong authorities to target them. The arrests are clearly intended to signal to opposition activists and their family members that their activities are being closely monitored by the regime and that they can be arrested at any time. In addition, the re-arrest and re-incarceration of Albert Ho, who is undergoing critical lung cancer treatment, highlights the authorities’ inhumane and persecution-minded attitude towards their political opponents.
(This story originally appeared in the March-April 2023 edition of our newsletter).