Authorities in Hong Kong have arrested a 23-year-old Catholic democracy activist allegedly for “inciting secession” under a new national security law imposed by Beijing.
Activist Agnes Chow, was arrested hours after media tycoon Jimmy Lai — also a Catholic — was placed under detention on Aug. 10.
Reports said Chow, an active pro-democracy campaigner, is under investigation for “inciting secession.”
Hong Kong’s new security law punishes anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
“It’s now confirmed that Agnes Chow has been arrested for ‘inciting secession’ under the national security law,” read a post on her Facebook account.
A police source told journalists that Chow was among 10 people arrested on Aug. 10 in a national security investigation.
The national security operation saw media mogul Lai and other senior executives at his Apple Daily newspaper detained.
Police said they arrested nine men and one woman, aged between 23 and 72.
Chow was only 15 years old when she saw photos on Facebook of students her age protesting the Chinese government’s plan to overhaul education in Hong Kong.
She later joined sit-in demonstrations outside government offices and in 2016 founded the political party Demosisto with two other activists: Nathan Law and Joshua Wong.
At 21, Chow ran for office and won an election in 2018 by campaigning for Hong Kong’s self-determination.
She was, however, barred from sitting in office after the government decided that self-determination contradicts Hong Kong’s agreement with China for “one country, two systems.”
In a 2019 interview with Religion Unplugged, Chow said faith inspired people to join the pro-democracy movement.
“I’m a Catholic. I do think that my participation in social movements is affected by my religion,” she said, adding that her father always brought her to church when she was young.
“We need to learn, we have to care, about the people who are being oppressed and people who are weak and need help,” said Chow.
She said the basic teaching of any religion is “to learn how to care about people who need help and people who are weak.”
“So that’s why I care,” she said, adding that “many other Christians and Catholics in Hong Kong … care a lot about society.”
“They put their religious beliefs into their participations in society and in the social movement,” said Chow, adding that many of those who joined the protests are Christians.
“I do think that the religious belief and what we learn from our religion and the Bible gives us our belief and courage to fight for freedom and rights for Hong Kong people,” she said.