“We are deeply concerned about the arrests on Wednesday of 53 political activists, academics, former legislators, current district councilors, and lawyers,” Liz Throssell, spokeswoman of the UN Human Rights Office, said in a statement.
“These persons are suspected to have violated the offence of subversion under the National Security Law,” it said in a statement.
However, the UN official said that these latest arrests indicate that “the offence of subversion under the National Security Law is indeed being used to detain individuals for exercising legitimate rights to participate in political and public life.”
Hong Kong was a British colony up until 1997, and is now a semi-autonomous Chinese territory. Following unrest and protests, China implemented the controversial security law in July 2020, triggering international criticism.
“The UN Human Rights Office and independent UN human rights experts have repeatedly warned that offences such as subversion under the National Security Law, passed in June 2020, are vague and overly broad, facilitating abusive or arbitrary implementation,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, multiple news reports said pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong and Tam Tak-chi were also arrested on the new charges of subversion.
Wong is currently serving a jail sentence for his role in organizing democracy protests, whereas Tak-chi is in custody on a sedition charge.