HK opposition activist handed fresh sedition charge over anti-national security law protest

16-Sep-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Opposition activist Tam Tak-chi has been charged with another count of uttering seditious words, this time for allegedly stirring up hatred against the Hong Kong government during a protest against the national security law before it was passed.

The latest charge was added to the three counts of public order charges Tam, 48, was already facing over Hong Kong Island protests on May 24 in a case being handled by Eastern Court. He has also been accused of uttering seditious words on five other occasions between March 15 and July 19 in a separate case heard in Fanling Court last week.

A photo cutout of activist Tam Tak-chi during a press conference at Tamar earlier this month. Photo: Dickson Lee

A photo cutout of activist Tam Tak-chi during a press conference at Tamar earlier this month. Photo: Dickson Lee

The leading figure of localist group People Power was the first person to be charged with sedition since Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997.

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Prosecutors said Tam’s remarks were uttered with intent to “bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, to raise discontent or disaffection amongst inhabitants of Hong Kong, or to counsel disobedience to law or to any lawful order”.

But Eastern Court did not hear further allegations as to what was said by Tam during the May 24 protests.

During the Fanling hearing on the other protests, Tam was accused of chanting purportedly seditious remarks like “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” and “Five demands, not one less”, both of which emerged last year as rallying cries for the anti-government demonstrations sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill.

Tam’s brief appearance at a hearing on Monday afternoon attracted a group of loud supporters some of whom greeted and waved at the live telecast of his image on two TV screens set up by the judiciary in the adjacent viewing room.

The protests at the centre of the Eastern Court case had erupted just hours after vice-Premier Han Zheng, the state leader in charge of Hong Kong affairs, told local delegates to the national legislature that Beijing’s determination to push through the national security law should not be underestimated, and that mainland authorities would “carry out it till the end”.

The sweeping legislation later came into effect on June 30, outlawing in broad terms acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.

Tam had already been charged with one count of disorder in public places and another of holding or convening an unauthorised assembly in relation to a gathering at the junction of East Point Road and Great George Street in Causeway Bay on May 24.

He was also charged with one count of refusing or wilfully neglecting to obey an order given by a police officer to disperse gatherings forbidden under pandemic control regulations on the same day.

But Tam was not required to indicate his plea to any of the four charges, as Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai adjourned the case to November 17, when his other case will also return to court, after which both cases will be transferred to the higher District Court.

Under the colonial-era law, anyone convicted of uttering seditious words can be fined HK$5,000 (US$645) and jailed for two years for a first offence.



Category: Hong Kong

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