HK Pro-Democracy Activists Found Guilty Over 2019 Protests

03-Apr-2021 Intellasia | Forbes | 5:02 AM Print This Post

Seven of Hong Kong’s most prominent pro-democracy campaigners have been convicted of unlawful assembly following demonstrations in 2019. Among those found guilty of organising an unauthorised protests are Jimmy Lai and Martin Lee. Jimmy Lai, owner of the independent newspaper Apple Daily and pro-democracy activist, was first arrested for alleged “foreign collusion” and fraud in August 2020. He was released on bail. In December 2020, he was arrested on fraud charges related to the use of office space, a civil offense, and was denied bail. Subsequently, he was charged with allegedly conspiring and colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security under the controversial National Security Law. Martin Lee, barrister and pro-democracy advocate, often referred to as the “Father of Democracy” in Hong Kong, was arrested in April 2020 on suspicion of organising, publicising or taking part in several unauthorised assemblies.

Others convicted for taking part in unauthorised protests in 2019 are: Albert Ho, lawyer, Leung ‘Long Hair’ Kwok-hung, former legislator, Lee Cheuk-yan, labour rights activist, Cyd Ho, former legislator, and Margaret Ng, barrister.

The 2019 protests in Hong Kong were sparked by a proposed extradition bill that would have enabled China to extradite individuals from Hong Kong and try them in mainland China. The bill has rightly caused concerns as it could be interpreted as one step towards tightening the Chinese power grip over Hong Kong. In light of the protests, the extradition bill was suspended in mid-June 2019. The protests, nonetheless, continued with calls to officially withdraw the bill. First on September 4, 2019, Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, announced that her government would formally withdraw the extradition bill.

Only a few days earlier, on March 30, 2021, the US State Department published it’s 2020 Human Rights Report criticising the human rights situation in Hong Kong, including the crackdown against pro-democracy protesters. The 2020 report stressed that “After violence occurred during some of the 2019 protests, police issued letters of objection against several gatherings, including large protest marches. In April police arrested 15 high-profile pro-democracy leaders, including former chairs of the Democratic and Labour parties, for ‘organising and participating in unlawful assembly’ in 2019.”

In addition to the crackdown against pro-democracy protesters, there are questions to be answered concerning the handling of such protests. As the UN reports, there is credible evidence of “law enforcement officials using some anti-riot measures which are prohibited by international norms and standards.” Some examples include “firing tear gas canisters into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at individual protesters on multiple occasions, creating a considerable risk of death or serious injury.”

The issue goes even further. As reported by the US State Department: “Government censors continued to block content from any source that discussed topics deemed sensitive, such as the 2019-20 Hong Kong pro-democracy protests, Taiwan, the Dalai Lama, Tibet, Xinjiang, and the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.” As such, one is not only prohibited from protesting, one is also not allowed to try to learn more about such protests.

As the trials of pro-democracy activist continue, one could not help but wonder, when did Hong Kong stop being Hong Kong.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2021/04/02/hong-kong-pro-democracy-activists-found-guilty-over-protests/?sh=486c53b45115

 

Category: Hong Kong

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