A woman in Hong Kong's Causeway Bay shopping area was arrested on Wednesday after turning up to the area with flowers -- and a box cutter - to "mourn" a week after the death of a man who stabbed a police officer in the back before taking his own life.
Days after the stabbing took place, six teens were also arrested in connection with a bomb plot in the area, which some activists have said was the result of Beijing's "crackdown" in Hong Kong, according to the NY Times.
Police were "highly concerned" to find the box cutter, they said on their official Facebook page. “Police are now reviewing and updating the strategies employed in different districts, to specifically stop and search suspicious persons or vehicles, in order to prevent and combat crime,” they wrote. However, it's possible that police tightening the reins further may only encourage more "activism" from pro-democracy protestors.
Hong Kong’s No 2 official on Wednesday spoke out against liberal commentators for defending people who laid flowers at the scene of the stabbing. Chief Secretary John Lee Ka-chiu also walked up to the line of free speech by warning "academics and commentators that freedom of speech did not absolve them of social and moral responsibilities", according to the South China Morning Post.
Lee continued: “There are people who tried to play down the adverse consequences and possible harm that the extreme acts could inflict. People, especially those with a legal background, must understand that what they say has an influence on society.”
“Those who try to play down terrorism will be ‘sinners for 1,000 years’,” he said.
Pro-democracy activists have laid flowers at the scene since the July 1 attack, mourning the attacker, who some on social media are calling a "martyr".
Legal scholar Johannes Chan Man-mun said "it was far-fetched for officials to suggest people were promoting terrorism simply by mourning someone’s death," the report notes.
Lee responded: “In Hong Kong, people can definitely comment on an incident. What I am saying is that people, especially public figures, must bear social responsibility. If they break the law, they need to bear legal responsibility, but their moral responsibility is more important. If they tone down the impact of extreme acts, and someone detonated a bomb that causes casualties, everyone knows who, to a certain extent … has helped terrorism grow.”
“No unlawful act can be accepted in society. If you find excuses for terrorism … you are encouraging extremists to engage in such acts. We will try to govern the city well. But [in any society], some people will be dissatisfied about their government’s performance, and they must seek solutions through rational and legal means," he concluded.
Activists continue to argue that the government has created "an environment in which lawful, peaceful protest is impossible — leaving residents desperate and, in some cases, radicalized," the NY Times reported on Tuesday.