Two men were arrested in Hong Kong for possessing copies of a children’s book that officials deemed “seditious.”
Police and customs officers arrested the men, ages 38 and 50, after raiding their homes and seizing several copies of the book.
The books, which are part of a series titled “Yangcun,” tell the story of a group of sheep who fight back against wolves that are trying to take over their village and eat them.
Authorities have interpreted the characters to be representative of Hong Kong and the Chinese government, and used a colonial-era sedition law to arrest the men, Quartz reported.
The men were released on bail, but have to report to police next month, the BBC reported.
Authorities used colonial-era sedition law to arrest the men for possessing the children’s books. SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
The Yangcun books previously roiled Hong Kong last year, when five speech therapists who published the books were jailed for 19 months after a Beijing-backed judge found they were “conspiring to publish, distribute and display three books with seditious intent,” The Guardian reported.
The latest arrests, however, appear to be the first case where citizens have been arrested simply for owning books deemed seditious by authorities, the outlet noted.
Hong Kong is Special Administrative Region of China, with a “one country, two systems” principle that is supposed to allow its citizens some freedoms that aren’t possible in mainland China.
Residents, however, have seen these rights rolled back in recent years following Beijing’s introduction of its 2020 national security law, intended to crack down on widespread pro-democracy protests that rocked Hong Kong beginning in 2019.