Hong Kong police arrested five trade union members on Thursday over children's books that they say are seditious, The Associated Press reported.
The members were arrested on suspicion of publishing seditious material under a colonial-era law that the government had hardly used before the anti-government protests began in 2019, according to Reuters.
The two men and three women arrested were members of the General Association of Hong Kong Speech Therapists, and had published three children's books. The books follow a village of sheep that must deal with wolves from another village. The sheep later take action against the wolves by going on strike or escaping on a boat, the association's website said, according to the AP.
“One day, the big bad wolf called all of the sheep to the square. He announced, ‘In a week, we shall implement the WolfSheep Rules. Wolves in the village may eat all sheep; disobedient sheep will be sent to jail.’” - from Sheep Village Defender— K Tse (@ktse852) July 22, 2021
Five sheep were arrested today. pic.twitter.com/UG7AsTRJL7
Li Kwai-wah, a senior superintendent of the national security department, said the books have seditious intent. One book, "Defenders of the Sheep," referenced the 12 Hong Kong activists arrested at sea while trying to flee the city after being charged in connection to anti-government protests in 2019.
In the book, the wolves "try to occupy the area” and eat the sheep, but the sheep fight back using their horns.
Li said the publishing of these books “brings hatred against the government and administration of justice, and (incites) violence to others," according to the AP.
In June, police also arrested several editors and executives of a pro-democracy newspaper as part of a recent crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in the city. Four editors and journalists charged with endangering national security have been denied bail, according to the AP.