Hong Kong, January 10 (ANI): As the US, UK, Australia and Canada jointly condemned the mass arrests of over 50 politicians and activists in Hong Kong (HK) under Beijing's draconian National Security Law, the HK government has responded that the countries are guilty of having 'double standards' by criticising the mass arrests.
According to South China Morning Post, a government spokesman said the security law is applied to every person in the city and no one is above the law.
The city's government called the remarks by the countries "slander" and accused those nations of "double standards". "Safeguarding national security through legislation is in line with international practice," the spokesman said.
"We are appalled by remarks made by some overseas government officials that seemed to suggest that people with certain political beliefs should be immune to legal sanctions," he said.
The arrests were made based on evidence and in strict accordance with the laws, he added.
The former opposition lawmakers and activists were arrested on Wednesday on subversion charges with authorities accusing them of a plot to "overthrow" the government.
"We, the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, and the United States Secretary of State, underscore our serious concern at the mass arrests of 55 politicians and activists in Hong Kong for subversion under the National Security Law," the joint statement read.
"We call on the Hong Kong and Chinese central authorities to respect the legally guaranteed rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong without fear of arrest and detention. It is crucial that the postponed Legislative Council elections in September proceed in a fair way that includes candidates representing a range of political opinions," read the statement further.
Over 50 opposition lawmakers and activists were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of violating the authoritarian national security law, for their part in a primary election run-off last July.
Among the arrested were former lawmakers James To Kun-sun, Lam Cheuk-ting, Andrew Wan Siu-kin, Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu and Wu Chi-wai, as well as pollster Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, who helped organise the event.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo had slammed Beijing over the arrests by calling it an outrage and a reminder of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) contempt for its own people. He further said that Washington will consider sanctions and other restrictions on any and all individuals and entities involved in executing this assault on Hong Kong people.
According to the authoritarian security law, a principal offender convicted of subversion faces imprisonment of 10 years to life, while an "active participant" can be sentenced to between three and 10 years' jail, while a minor can face a fixed term of not more than three years' imprisonment or short-term detention or restriction. (ANI)