Activists convicted in Hong Kong – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

Activists convicted in Hong Kong – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries
Activists convicted in Hong Kong – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

The sentencing has not been published, but they can risk up to five years in prison.

The activists demonstrated against a bill that would allow suspects in criminal cases to be extradited to mainland China. The law was later passed.

The seven have been convicted of having participated in an illegal protest that was held on 18 August 2019, writes the news agency AP.

The organizer of the demonstration has stated that around 1.7 million people marched that day in protest of the bill.

Among those convicted are 72-year-old media mogul Jimmy Lai and 82-year-old Democratic veteran Martin Lee.

Lai, who runs the Beijing-critical newspaper Apple Daily, was taken into custody in November last year, but was released on bail on Christmas Eve last year.

In addition, two former members of the Hong Kong People’s Assembly, Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung, were indicted in the case. They have pleaded guilty in the past.

Did not believe the defendants

The prosecution believes the seven have been guilty of turning a legal assembly in Victoria Park into an illegal march.

Defendants claim the defendants led the participants out of the park to prevent it from becoming crowded, writes the South China Morning Post.

– Shame on political persecution! Peaceful demonstration is not criminal, Leung shouted after the question of guilt was settled.

Activist Lee Cheuk-yan appeared with posters ahead of a court hearing in Hong Kong on Thursday.
Photo: Vincent Yu / AP

However, the judge ruled that there was no risk of personal injury as a result of the large number of people present, and that the seven undoubtedly wanted to lead the march out of the park.

“It is a description used to break the law and circumvent the ban. The intentions were stated publicly repeatedly in the days before the meeting, “it is stated in the judgment.

– Will march on

Demonstrations took place in Hong Kong for much of the autumn of 2019.

The Security Act was passed and entered into force on 1 July last year.

It is the most radical change in the partially autonomous region since Britain transferred the territory to China in 1997, according to Reuters.

Ahead of the trial, some activists had gathered and shouted slogans in opposition to political persecution.

– We will continue to march on, no matter what comes in the future. We believe in the people of Hong Kong, in our brothers and sisters in our struggle. The victory is ours if the people of Hong Kong stand together, said Lee Cheuk-yan, who was one of the accused before the court hearing.



NRK
explains

What is the Hong Kong Security Act?

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The law will strengthen national security and ensure peace and order, the authorities claim. Many believe it instead undermines the city’s freedoms and makes Hong Kong equal to China.

Why is the law so controversial?

Opponents of the law believe it will be harder to say and mean what you want.

It becomes more difficult to protest against the authorities and have contact with foreign organizations.

The Security Act allows Chinese security agents to operate in Hong Kong.

A new security agency controlled from China has also been established.

The agency has taken over responsibility for national security cases from Hong Kong courts and decides which cases it is.

All this worries many in Hong Kong.

What does the Security Act say?

The law is intended to prevent and punish four categories of offenses:

  • subversive activity
  • secession activities
  • terrorism
  • alliances with foreign powers with the intention of undermining national security

The Security Act takes precedence over Hong Kong’s own laws.

The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

The proposed normal penalty for minor offenses is up to three years.

Are the protests against the law related to the protests last year?

The protests last year were about an extradition law.

The law would make it possible to extradite people suspected of criminal acts from Hong Kong to China.

Many did not trust that this would only apply to serious crimes, but that those who were critical of the Communist Party in China would also be extradited.

The bill was eventually withdrawn after large demonstrations.

Have similar laws been proposed before?

Hong Kong’s 1997 constitution states that there must be a national security law.

In 2003, the local government tried to introduce such a law, following pressure from the leadership in Beijing.

Many people thought that the Security Act would limit the rights of citizens too much.

After large protests, the law was withdrawn and since then no attempt was made – before China overthrew Hong Kong’s politicians.

Why does China propose the law?

China wants as much control as possible over Hong Kong and has been concerned about the demonstrations and demands for independence.

In September, there are to be elections at the Legislative Assembly in Hong Kong.

The election is now postponed until next year.

In the local elections last autumn, those who want more democracy won all but one constituency.

Although the electoral system is such that the democracy movement would hardly manage this in the elections to the Legislative Assembly, the goal was majority.

Many of the Democratic Movement’s candidates were refused to run in the election, including current representatives.

What are people in Hong Kong afraid of losing?

Hong Kong was a British colony for over 150 years.

Upon its return to China in 1997, the agreement was that the city would retain its own borders, its western economic system with its own currency, and its own judiciary with independent courts.

The inhabitants have had freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press.

Much of this is feared by many in Hong Kong to lose if China gains a stronger grip on the city.



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