Hong Kong police say children's tales of sheep and wolves incite sedition
HONG KONG, July 22 - Hong Kong police arrested five people on Thursday for charges of sedition; The arrests were the latest involving alleged critics of the Hong Kong government who raised fears that the space for dissent has narrowed since Beijing "imposed a national security law in June 2020 to end pro-democracy protests in the semi-autonomous city.
Police said a book, "Defenders of the Sheep Village " was linked to the protests. In the story, the wolves want to occupy the village and eat the sheep, which in turn use their horns to fight back.
Those arrested were members of a union of speech therapists who produced children's books.Police said they were two men and three women, aged 25 to 28. They did not identify them by name. A police officer escorts one of five suspects, suspected of posting and distributing seditious material, in Hong Kong, China on July 22, 2021. Reuters
The five people were arrested on suspicion of having conspired to publish seditious material under colonial-era law rarely used before anti-government protests began in the former British colony.
Chief Police Superintendent Steve Li said said at a press conference that the police were concerned about the books because of the information inside for children who "turn around and develop a moral standard to be against society." "
A policeman stands in front of a screen during a press conference after the arrest of five people suspected of conspiring to publish "seditious material" with intent to incite public hatred towards the government among children, in Hong Kong, China , July 22, 2021. Reuters
They highlighted two more livres produced by the union in addition to "Defenders of the Sheep Village ".
The second told the story of 12 sheep taken by wolves to the beast village where they would be cooked, potentially referring to the 12 sheep. Hong Kong people captured by China in August last year at sea as they tried to flee the city by boat. Li said the story was not factual and incited hatred against the authorities.
The third book tells the story of wolves sneaking through a hole in the village of sheep and shows the wolves as dirty and the sheep as clean. This was aimed at instilling hatred against the government, Li said.
The first convictions under the Sedition Act can carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison, police said. The General Union of Speech-Language Pathologists of Hong Kong could not be reached for comment.
Chief Superintendent Steve Li Kwai-wah , from the national security department of the police, speaks at a press conference after the arrest of five people suspected of having conspired to publish "seditious material" with the aim of 'inciting public hatred of government among children, Hong Kong, China, July 22, 2021. Reuters
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 saying that China's national security is a red line.
Security officials said the law enforcement measures are evidence-based and have nothing to do with an individual's political position, background or profession.