Singer and pro-democracy activist Denise Ho arrested in Hong Kong
Montrealer has been involved in legal aid fund for Hong Kong protesters
Cantopop star and Canadian citizen Denise Ho, who grew up in Greater Montreal, is one of at least four people who were arrested by authorities in Hong Kong Wednesday.
Hong Kong Watch, a human rights organization based in the U.K., said Ho was arrested alongside Cardinal Joseph Zen, lawyer Margaret Ng and researcher Hui Po-keung.
The organization said their arrests were apparently linked to their roles in a humanitarian relief fund providing legal aid to people who took part in the 2019 pro-democracy protests, which were largely suppressed by security forces.
Dozens of pro-democracy activists have been arrested under a sweeping national security law that was introduced to Hong Kong by Beijing in 2020. Ho herself had been previously arrested and briefly detained last December.
Ho was born in Hong Kong, but raised in Brossard, on the South Shore. After high school, she attended CEGEP in Montreal before moving back to Hong Kong. At a 2019 protest in Hong Kong, Ho said growing up in Montreal helped her want to speak out for fundamental rights.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, who had expressed her concern after Ho's first arrest, wrote on Wednesday that the latest wave of arrests is "deeply troubling."
"The ongoing targeting of civil society groups erodes the rights and freedoms of [Hong Kong] residents guaranteed under [Hong Kong]'s Basic Law," she tweeted.
A spokesperson for the group Alliance Canada Hong Kong said the arrests signal an escalating crackdown in Hong Kong.
"It's not really surprising that it happened, but it's still shocking," said Ai-Men Lau. "Especially the arrest of a 90-year-old cardinal for his pacifist activities," she added, referring to cardinal Joseph Zen.
Global Affairs Canada confirmed Wednesday that it was offering Ho consular services.
The arrests come after Beijing loyalist John Lee was elected as Hong Kong's next leader Sunday, after winning over 99 per cent of votes cast by a largely pro-Beijing election committee.