A Hong Kong court on Thursday found seven prominent activists guilty of unauthorized gathering for a pro-democracy demonstration in 2019. The culprits include Martin Lee, known as the “father of democracy” in Hong Kong, and media mogul Jimmy Lai.
Following widespread and often violent protests against Beijing’s control in 2019, China has targeted repression of dissidents and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.
He faces a five-year prison sentence
A Hong Kong court found seven defendants guilty of unauthorized assembly and organization of a rally in connection with a pro-democracy demonstration on 18 August 2019. That is when one of the biggest demonstrations of democracy supporters took place.
The organizers said that 1.7 million people took part (Hong Kong has a population of 7.5 million). It should be noted that protests in Hong Kong can only take place with the permission of the authorities.
Everyone found guilty today faces five years in prison. Among those found guilty is 82-year-old lawyer Martin Lee, who Beijing once involved in drafting the Hong Kong constitution. For decades, he has campaigned for democracy to flourish in Hong Kong. He is now facing up to five years in prison.
It is an honor to sit in prison
Among the culprits are 73-year-old media mogul Jimmy Lai, who is in custody, and 73-year-old lawyer and former opposition MP Margaret Wu. Other defendants, on the other hand, served on the Civic Human Rights Front, which organized protests by pro-democracy activists in 2019. Two other activists have previously pleaded guilty in court to charges of unauthorized assembly.
Latvian Radio correspondent Rihards Plūme on the situation in Hong Kong00:00 / 03:25
Journalists, democracy activists and their supporters gathered at the courthouse on Thursday with various posters in their hands. One of the culprits was also found a politician of the pro-democratic movement, Lee Chaken. After pleading guilty, he told reporters and supporters:
“Of course, we regret that we have lost this case, because we believe that we have the right to take to the streets on the basis of the constitution.
If we are imprisoned for this or any of the other things that are yet to come, I will have the honor of being imprisoned for taking the streets with the people of Hong Kong. ”
Demands to keep promises
The former chairman of the Democratic Party, Emily Lau, was also at the courthouse, stressing to those present:
“We are not here to demand independence or to overthrow the Hong Kong or central government, or to start a color revolution. We are simply asking the central government to live up to the promises it made in the Sino-British Declaration and the Hong Kong Basic Law.
People now fear that freedom of speech will be criminalized and more and more people will go to prison. Therefore, the authorities may have to build a lot of prisons here to imprison people. “
China has been taking more and more steps recently, which is a sign of Beijing’s efforts to curb Hong Kong’s democracy. Until recently, Chinese leaders approved a reform of Hong Kong’s electoral system, reducing the number of directly elected members of the Hong Kong Legislative Council and introducing other changes. British Foreign Secretary Dominik Rab said this week that the change was a clear violation of the 1984 Sino-British joint declaration.
China’s central government has begun to establish much tighter controls after protests that culminated in more than a million people demanding the preservation of Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms. They were guaranteed to the Hong Kong administrative region by an agreement in 1997, when Britain transferred control of Hong Kong to communist China.
The agreement stipulates that Hong Kong will maintain its legal system and ensure freedom of assembly and expression for 50 years. However, under the pretext of ending violent protests, China passed a new national security law in June 2020, effectively banning protests and criticism of the Communist Party.
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