Hong Kong situation ‘extremely worrying’: EU’s Mogherini

Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, left, and EU’s Federica Mogherini attend the Informal Meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Helsinki. (Reuters)
Updated 30 August 2019

Hong Kong situation ‘extremely worrying’: EU’s Mogherini

  • EU foreign ministers meeting in Helsinki discussed the turmoil that has been gripping Hong Kong for the past three months

HELSINKI: The EU’s diplomatic chief on Friday voiced deep concern about developments in Hong Kong, where leading democracy activists were arrested as the city’s political crisis rages.

Federica Mogherini warned the Hong Kong authorities that the EU was watching closely after police swooped to detain a number of activists including a lawmaker.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Helsinki discussed the turmoil that has been gripping Hong Kong for the past three months, with increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters.

“The developments in Hong Kong over these last hours are extremely worrying,” Mogherini said afterward.

“We expect the authorities in Hong Kong to respect the freedom of assembly, expression and association as well as the right of people to demonstrate peacefully.”

The demonstrations, which began in protest of a planned law permitting extradition to mainland China, have by turns seen millions march, closed the airport and left city streets strewn with bricks and shrouded in tear gas.

“We will continue to pass messages publicly and privately and continue to work for the situation not to continue to go into the wrong direction but rather the opposite, to reverse to a more positive trend,” Mogherini said, noting that EU countries had significant business interests in the former British colony.

Arrested

Prominent democracy activists including a lawmaker were arrested on Friday in a protest crackdown — a move described by rights groups as a well-worn tactic deployed by China to suffocate dissent ahead of key political events.

The sweep comes after a major rally planned for Saturday was banned by police on security grounds, and then called off by the organizers.

The latest protest had been due to mark the fifth anniversary of Beijing’s rejection of a call for universal suffrage in the semi-autonomous city, sparking the 79-day Umbrella Movement in 2014.

Hong Kong has been locked in three months of political crisis, with increasingly violent clashes between police and protesters that have prompted an escalating intimidation campaign from China.

Two of the Umbrella Movement’s leaders, Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow — both still well-regarded among the city’s youth — appeared in court accused of “inciting others to take part in unauthorized assembly” among other charges, having been arrested in dawn swoops on Friday.

After receiving bail, they spoke outside the court and Wong vowed to “continue our fight,” railing against the “chilling effect” of the arrests on opponents of Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed government.

Authorities are “trying to create white terror” to scare people away from participating in the social and democratic movement, he added — deploying a term used for China’s efforts to fragment and harass the protesters.


Poland seizes two for plotting Breivik-style attacks on Muslims

Updated 13 November 2019

Poland seizes two for plotting Breivik-style attacks on Muslims

  • The two suspects were taken into custody on Sunday in the capital Warsaw and the northern city of Szczecin
  • Breivik, an anti-Muslim neo-Nazi, massacred 77 people in Norway’s worst peacetime atrocity in July 2011

WARSAW: Polish agents arrested two people accused of planning attacks against Muslims inspired by Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik and suspected white supremacist Brenton Tarrant in New Zealand, the security service said on Wednesday.
The arrests follow a spate of attacks involving white supremacists targeting ethnic and religious minorities across the globe. Far-right groups have grown in strength in Poland, the largest of the European Union’s post-communist states.
The two suspects were taken into custody on Sunday in the capital Warsaw and the northern city of Szczecin.
“The arrests are the result of information collected earlier by the Internal Security Agency (ABW) about an extremist group whose aim was to intimidate Muslims living in Poland,” the statement said.
“The materials gathered during the investigation show the group modelled itself on terrorist attacks carried out by extremists including Anders Breivik (in 2011 in Norway) and Brenton Tarrant (in 2019 in New Zealand).”
The group intended to carry out attacks using firearms and explosives, the statement said, and during one search of a house in the Warsaw suburb of Wlochy, ABW agents found materials for making large quantities of explosives, guns and ammunition.
Breivik, an anti-Muslim neo-Nazi, massacred 77 people in Norway’s worst peacetime atrocity in July 2011.
Tarrant has been charged with an attack broadcast live on Facebook in 2019 on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 51 people and wounded dozens.