Canadian activist Denise Ho was reported to have been arrested in Hong Kong on Wednesday

HONG KONG – Cantonese folk singer and activist Denise Ho, who grew up in the Montreal area, is one of at least four people arrested in Hong Kong on Wednesday, all on suspicion of collusion with foreign forces to endanger Chinese national security.

Ms Ho is being held by the Hong Kong National Security Police, as well as Cardinal Joseph Zinn, lawyer Margaret Ng and researcher Hui Bo Kyung, the UK-based organization Hong Kong Human Rights said.

The arrests appear to be linked, according to Hong Kong Watch, to their role in the Humanitarian Relief Fund that provided legal aid to people who took part in the 2019 pro-democracy protests that were quelled by security forces.

Dozens of pro-democracy activists have been arrested under the sweeping national security law that the Beijing regime imposed on Hong Kong in 2020. Dennis Ho was previously arrested and briefly detained last December.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie, who expressed concern after the first arrest of Dennis Ho, wrote on social media on Wednesday that news of the multiple arrests in Hong Kong of former directors of a legal defense fund, including Dennis Ho, is deeply disturbing.

“The continued targeting of civil society groups undermines the rights and freedoms of (Hong Kong) residents guaranteed by the (Hong Kong) Basic Law,” added Minister Jolie, who used Hong Kong flag pictograms instead of words.

A spokeswoman for Alliance Canada in Hong Kong said the arrests were a sign of a deepening crackdown in Hong Kong. “It’s no surprise that this happened, but it’s still shocking,” said Ai Min Lau. “Especially the arrest of a 90-year-old cardinal for his peaceful activities,” she added, referring to Cardinal Joseph Zain.

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Dennis Ho was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Broussard on the south shore of Montreal. She previously cited her time in Canada as the inspiration for her activism, according to Ai-Men Lau.

Global Affairs Canada said in a statement on Wednesday that the department had been providing consular services to Ms. Hu.

The arrests follow the selection last Sunday of Hong Kong’s new leader, John Lee, a hard-line former security chief who ran unopposed in a China-controlled operation.

Many prominent Hong Kong activists fled to Taiwan, Britain or elsewhere, while thousands of other Hong Kong residents chose to leave the region, raising concerns about the economic future of the Asian financial hub of 7.4 million people.

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