Hong Kong: Two men arrested for possessing ‘seditious’ children’s picture books

In Hong Kong, two men have been arrested for possession of children’s books that have previously been labelled seditious. While there was an earlier crackdown on the publishing of the said picture books, this is believed to be the first case of arrest over mere possession. The books, part of a series titled ‘Yangcun’, tell the story of a sheep village facing the threat of invasion at the hands of wolves.

The arrest of two men, aged 38 and 50, was reportedly carried out on March 13th. Their homes and offices were searched by police and customs officers.

According to a Guardian report, a police press release cited by the local media claims that copies of the “seditious publications” that allegedly “incited hatred or contempt” against the Chinese and Hong Kong governments and the judiciary were found with them.

Since then, they have been released on bail, but have been told to report to the police next month.

Human Rights Watch has described the arrests as shameful and has alleged that the government is using its colonial-era law to clamp down on dissent.

What makes these books seditious?

Authorities in Hong Kong have interpreted the characters as a dig at the government with the sheep allegedly referring to Hong Kongers and the wolves to China’s government.

What happened earlier?

Last year, in a high-profile case over the same “seditious’ Yangcun books, five speech therapists were jailed for publishing the books. They were sentenced to 19 months in prison.

In January of this year, a 24-year-old student was arrested for sedition for posting download links of the said children’s books on Facebook. As per local Hong Kong news outlet Mingpao, the post was accompanied by “inflammatory statements.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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