By Preeti Jha
BBC News, Singapore
Publishedduration1 hour agoshareSharenocloseShare pagelinkCopy linkAbout sharingimage copyrightEPA, Reuters, Instagramimage captionA social worker, an ex-journalist, an academic and an American lawyer (clockwise from top left) were among the arrested
When news of the first arrests began trickling through, Joey Siu got straight onto the phone to her friends in Hong Kong. As they stopped responding, one by one, she realised the crackdown was growing – and fast.
The 21-year-old student activist, who fled to the US two months ago, watched the detentions mount on her screen: a social worker, an academic, a former journalist, an American lawyer.
"I panicked," said Ms Siu, as the scale of the operation became apparent, partly "because of the fact that I can't go back and help."
Less than 18 months ago, she was one of the young protesters whose huge rallies shook Hong Kong and, like several dozen of those activists in recent months, she made the difficult decision to leave in fear of the widening clampdown and a feeling she could do more from overseas.
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On Wednesday, 53 people were arrested in Hong Kong, the biggest swoop on pro-democracy activists so far under a draconian security law imposed by Beijing just six months ago.
It confirmed the worst fears of many – including Ms Siu's – that the legislation would be used to target peaceful activism and stamp out what was left of democracy in the Chinese-ruled city.