HONG KONG — The police in Hong Kong arrested at least three prominent activists ahead of a sensitive political anniversary on Saturday, as the authorities intensified their crackdown on an opposition movement that has shaken the semiautonomous Chinese city for months.
Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow, student leaders of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong five years ago that presaged the current protests, were arrested on Friday morning, their political organization said.
Andy Chan, who led the now-banned Hong Kong National Party, was taken into custody Thursday night at the Hong Kong airport, he said on Facebook.
The arrests were the latest in a dramatic week of events in Hong Kong, where tensions were running high after three months of protests touched off by widespread anger over legislation, since suspended, that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial.
Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said Tuesday that the government was looking into “all laws in Hong Kong — if they can provide a legal means to stop violence and chaos,” when asked whether she was considering use of the sweeping Emergency Regulations Ordinance.
Two days later, the Chinese military sent fresh troops in the early-morning darkness to its Hong Kong garrison.
Beijing described the move as a regular rotation of its forces, but in light of warnings from mainland officials that the military could be used to quell unrest in Hong Kong, it raised questions about whether China was positioning its troops for a crackdown.
Opposition leaders were hoping to hold a large rally on Saturday, the fifth anniversary of a decision by the Chinese legislature to impose strict limits on elections in Hong Kong, but those plans were in doubt.
The police have rejected an application to hold a large rally and march to the Chinese government’s representative office in Hong Kong to mark the anniversary of the decision, which helped inspire the 2014 Umbrella Movement. An appeal was turned down on Friday.
Jimmy Sham, a prominent member of the Civil Human Rights Front, the organization that applied to hold the protest Saturday and has led several large marches in recent months, told public broadcaster RTHK that the group would call off the protest if the police ban could not be overturned.
Mr. Sham and Max Chung, who had applied for another protest in July, were attacked in separate episodes on Thursday. Mr. Sham was uninjured, but a friend who protected him was hit on his arms by a person with a bat. Mr. Chung was hit on his arms, back and neck by men wielding pipes and umbrellas.
Mr. Wong, 22, was arrested at about 7:30 a.m. on the street near a subway station on the south side of Hong Kong Island, his political party, Demosisto, said on Twitter. Ms. Chow was also arrested, and like Mr. Wong sent to police headquarters in Wan Chai, the party said.
Mr. Wong became a widely recognized face of the 2014 Umbrella Movement. As a skinny, bespectacled teenager, he could often be seen on the streets, exhorting huge crowds through a megaphone.
He has been sentenced twice to short prison terms for convictions related to the 2014 protests, and he most recently served two months this year after being convicted on charges related to the clearance of a protest site in Mong Kok. He was released in June, just as the protests over the extradition legislation began.
Mr. Wong remains a prominent figure in Hong Kong politics, but his profile and influence in the current protest movement are much lower than it was in 2014.
Ms. Chow was a spokeswoman for Scholarism, a prominent student activist group, for part of the 2014 protests.
Mr. Chan led a small, pro-independence political party that became a focus of attention last year when the Hong Kong government banned it under a colonial-era public security ordinance. The rare move raised concerns that it would threaten free expression and association in Hong Kong.
Unlike the Umbrella Movement, the current protest effort has embraced no identifiable leaders, in part because many high-profile figures, like Mr. Wong, ended up in prison.
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