Police in Hong Kong arrested several people on Thursday over the production of specific children’s books, according to reports coming out of the area.
Three women and two men, between the ages of 25 and 28, were arrested.
The actions come as part of Beijing’s new national security law that went into effect last June and has been used to crack down on pro-democracy agitators in Hong Kong. The law, essentially, allows Chinese officials to decide, in broad terms, what is a threat to “national security,” Amnesty International noted.
“First convictions under the law can carry a maximum penalty of two years in prison, police said,” per NBC News.
The AFP News report, via Yahoo News, explained the books:
Published by the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists, the books try to explain Hong Kong’s democracy movement to children.
Democracy supporters are portrayed as sheep living in a village surrounded by wolves.
The first book, titled “Guardians of Sheep Village” explains the 2019 pro-democracy protests that swept through Hong Kong.
“Janitors of Sheep Village”, the second book, sees cleaners in the village go on strike to force out wolves who leave litter everywhere.
The book’s introduction explains it is a reference to Hong Kong medical workers striking last year in a bid to force the government to close the border with mainland China at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The final book in the trilogy — “The 12 Braves of Sheep Village” — is about a group of sheep who flee their village by boat because of the wolves.
It is a direct reference to 12 Hong Kongers who made a failed bid to escape by speedboat last year to Taiwan but were detained by the Chinese coastguard and jailed.
Steve Li, a senior superintendent of the national security department, told a press conference Thursday that the people who were arrested were part of a speech therapists’ union that produced children’s books that included wolves and sheep.
“Li said the content of the books were ‘stirring up hatred’ towards the government and ‘inciting violence,’” per NBC News.
“They are using children’s cartoons to simplify and beautify illegal behavior on political issues,” he said. “For example, the evil acts of thugs during the 2019 protests and painting the 12 Hong Kong fugitives as heroes. They are poisoning our children.”
Li also pressed stores that carry the books and parents who may have purchased the books to throw the items out.
According to Amnesty International, the 2020 national security law is especially restrictive and unclear. Among other concerns, “[u]nder this new law ‘secession’, ‘subversion’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘collusion with foreign forces’ incur maximum penalties of life imprisonment,” the group reported.
Many have noted that the national security law appears to be intended to quell pro-democracy movements and stifle any criticism of the government. This is not the first time that the new law has made headlines around the world. Last month, Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily was raided by Hong Kong police, and five newspaper executives and editors at the newspaper were taken into custody under Hong Kong’s national security law, as reported by NPR.
As The Daily Wire reported, supporters of democratic rights went to purchase Apple Daily copies after the raid in order to push back against the police encounter.
Reuters reported, “The popular 26-year-old paper, which combines liberal discourse with celebrity gossip and investigations of those in power, increased its Friday press run to 500,000 copies, up from 80,000 the previous day.”
“You never know when this newspaper will die,” one reader, who only gave his surname, told Reuters. “As Hong Kongers, we need to preserve the history. Hang in there as long as we can. Although the road is rough, we still need to walk it, as there’s no other road.”