Five arrested in Hong Kong for sedition over ‘sheep village’ children’s books

Five members of a Hong Kong union behind a series of children’s books about sheep trying to hold back wolves from their village have been arrested for sedition, police announced Thursday.

Police said the two men and three women aged between 25 to 28 “conspired to publish, distribute, exhibit or copy seditious publications”. 

The group was attempting to stir up “the public’s — and especially young children’s — hatred towards Hong Kong’s government and judiciary and to incite violence and illegal acts,” police said in their statement.

The five arrested people were members of a union and HK$160,000 ($20,600) in funds had been frozen under the SAR’s national security law, police added.

A police source told AFP that the arrested men and women were members of The General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists.

In recent months the union published three illustrated e-books that try to explain Hong Kong’s anti-government movement to children.

Activists are portrayed as sheep living in a village surrounded by wolves.

The first book, titled “Guardians of Sheep Village” elaborates on the 2019 often violent anti-government 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 seen as a direct reference to 12 Hong Kong fugitives who made a failed bid to escape by speedboat last year to Taiwan but were detained by the Chinese coastguard and jailed.

Sedition is a colonial-era law that carries up to two years in jail for a first offence.  

“Residents must see the facts clearly, must not condone or beautify violence and should not let the next generation be incited and misled by untrue and biased information,” police said.