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Hong Kong police arrest prominent pro-democracy activist

January 11, 2010 - Jan 9, 2010

Hong Kong - Hong Kong police Saturday arrested a prominent pro-democracy
activist, accusing her of assaulting an officer during a demonstration
outside Chinese government offices on January 1.

The arrest of Christina Chan, 22, by four officers as she left a radio
studio was immediately criticized as an attack on free speech in the former
British colony.

Chan was questioned over an alleged assault on a police officer outside Hong
Kong's Beijing Liaison Office during a pro-democracy protest on New Year's
Day involving an estimated 30,000 people.

She was also questioned over a second alleged assault on police during a
protest over a controversial 8.6-billion-US-dollar rail link to China in

Two police officers and one protester were slightly injured in scuffles
outside the Beijing Liaison Office, China's de-facto embassy in Hong Kong,
at the end of the otherwise peaceful demonstration.

Chan was released on bail Saturday afternoon and told reporters she had been
singled out to scare off other activists. 'I do think they (the Hong Kong
government) are trying to suppress dissident voices,' she said.

Pro-democracy legislator Alan Leong said Chan's arrest was unnecessary and
'totally out of the ordinary' and might have been carried out to deter

Former Hong Kong chief secretary Anson Chan, a leading figure in the
pro-democracy movement, told government-run radio station RTHK: 'I have to
say I am astounded.

'This (arrest) is totally unnecessary and I fear it is only going to inflame
the situation.'

The arrest of Chan, who rose to prominence through her pro-Tibet protests in
the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, came amid rising tensions between
pro-democracy activists and the Hong Kong administration.

Hong Kong's Beijing-appointed leader Donald Tsang was warned by Chinese
premier Wen Jiabao in December to tackle 'deep-rooted conflicts' in the city
of 7 million more effectively.

On Friday, an estimated 8,000 protesters surrounded the legislative council
building in Hong Kong to protest the government's rail link proposal.

Thousands more are expected to gather when the Hong Kong parliament
reconvenes to decide whether to approve funding for the project next Friday.
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