The ill effects of the Hong Kong national security law which took effect June 30 are continuing to be felt. Hong Kong pro-democracy, anti-Beijing activists have continued to be on edge and now largely ‘underground’ since last month’s formal passage of the sweeping national security law in response to the mass protests and unrest which gripped the city for much of last year.

On Wednesday four activists were arrested for merely making online posts expressing pro-independence sentiment. The AP reports that all of the them are young, between 16- and 18-years, and were further said to have been ‘organizing’.

“Our investigation showed that a group has recently announced on social media that they have set up an organization for Hong Kong independence,” said Li Kwai-wah, head of the new HK police unit tasked with enforcing the law.

“They said they want to establish a Hong Kong republic, and that they will unreservedly fight for it,” the police commander described.

“They also said they want to unite all pro-independence groups in Hong Kong for this purpose,” he added.

When the law took effect at the start of the month, a few prominent anti-Beijing activists decided to flee, such as Nathan Law, on fears the law would certainly be used to punish their activities, and even apply retroactively.

This also as the law harshly cracks down on dissent with possible maximum life jail sentences for some crimes, largely dependent on the ambiguous and highly open to interpretation (with no independent review) question of what constitutes ‘foreign interference’ or sponsorship of a ‘terror’ organization.