HONG KONG, CHINA — A high-profile Hong Kong union leader was arrested Thursday by national security police, a police source told AFP, with local media footage showing her being led into an unmarked van outside the prison where her husband is being held.
Elizabeth Tang Yin-ngor — secretary-general of the International Domestic Workers Federation — was arrested on suspicion of “colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security”, the police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The offence carries a sentence of up to life imprisonment under a strict national security law introduced by Beijing in 2020 to quell widespread, and sometimes violent, pro-democracy protests.
A video clip published by Beijing-backed newspaper Wen Wei Po on Thursday showed a middle-aged woman in a black sleeveless jacket, identified as Tang, being led by men in plainclothes to a van outside the prison.
Tang and her husband, Lee Cheuk-yan, have advocated for labour rights and democracy in the city for four decades and co-founded the now-disbanded Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the city’s largest umbrella group of pro-democracy unions.
Lee is also the former chairman of the now-disbanded Hong Kong Alliance, the main organiser of an annual candlelight vigil held for more than three decades to mourn victims of Beijing’s 1989 bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square.
The vigil was banned in 2020, the same year that Beijing imposed the national security law, and the Alliance disbanded in 2021 after all its leading members were arrested and charged under the security law.
Lee has been in custody since September 2021, accused of “incitement to commit subversion” over his activism.
His case is a pending trial at Hong Kong’s High Court, with him and two other alliance leaders facing up to 10 years in prison.
In December, Lee’s lawyer told a judge Tang was living and working in Britain.