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The convictions in crucial trial towards democracy activists in Hong Kong

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The convictions in crucial trial towards democracy activists in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong’s High Court on Thursday discovered 14 of 16 pro-democracy activists concerned within the biggest-ever trial towards the democracy motion within the semi-autonomous Chinese metropolis responsible of violating the disputed nationwide safety regulation. The 16 defendants had been accused of conspiracy to commit subversion and of getting organized unauthorized major elections: the punishment has not but been communicated, however the 14 convicted threat from three years to life imprisonment.

The trial, which was additionally broadly adopted internationally, is taken into account proof of the erosion of civil liberties in Hong Kong, which till just a few years in the past loved a big diploma of freedom from China, with a free press and a judicial system unbiased, earlier than a significant wave of repression carried out by the pro-Chinese authorities of Hong Kong, which successfully eradicated all types of dissent. Among the defendants within the trial in current days there will not be solely pro-democracy politicians, but in addition journalists, professors and commerce unionists.

The 16 defendants had been arrested together with dozens of different individuals in February 2021, throughout a large-scale raid towards most of the essential leaders of the town’s democratic motion. In Hong Kong, a powerful repression was underway in these years – and has by no means stopped since – which started with the approval in 2020 of a nationwide safety regulation desired by the Chinese regime. This regulation gave metropolis authorities broad powers to crack down on pro-democracy activists, who had been staging enormous protests towards the regime since 2019.

The 2019 protest in Hong Kong (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

The cause for the arrest was the unofficial primaries that pro-democracy activists had organized in July 2020, with the intention of figuring out the strongest candidates to take part within the Hong Kong native parliament elections, which had been imagined to be held in there shortly. The primaries occurred usually and peacefully, and had been a hit: 600 thousand individuals participated. But the town authorities thought-about the group of those primaries an act of sedition towards the federal government, amongst different issues as a result of some articles in a pro-democracy newspaper spoke of the necessity to intensify protests and actions towards the federal government as soon as the elections had been received ( the newspaper in query, theApple Dailywas compelled to shut in 2021).

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John Lee, the town’s pro-regime governor, mentioned the pro-democracy activists’ primaries had been “a premeditated plan to throw Hong Kong into the abyss.” Just a few months later the arrests started.

Police outside Hong Kong's local parliament, March 2024

Police exterior Hong Kong’s native parliament, March 2024 (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)

Of the 47 individuals arrested and remained in jail, together with lecturers, politicians, former parliamentarians and protesters, 31 had pleaded responsible, principally to attempt to get hold of decreased sentences. Sixteen, nevertheless, continued to keep up their innocence, and had been due to this fact tried by a court docket specifically chosen by the federal government to deal with circumstances like this, after spending greater than 1,000 days in pre-trial detention.

Among these accused had been, for instance, the well-known politician Leung Kwok-hung, the previous regulation professor Benny Tai and Joshua Wong, probably the most essential exponents of the pro-democracy motion. Among these discovered responsible on Thursday are Leung, politician Lam Cheuk-ting and former journalist Gwyneth Ho. The two acquitted are the previous prosecutor Lawrence Lau and the activist Lee Yu-shun. Wong, who can be concerned in different trials, had mentioned he was responsible.

The trial was broadly adopted, each as a result of significance of the defendants and for symbolic causes. Diplomats from the United States and a few European nations, amongst different issues, attended the hearings as spectators. What everybody will probably be nevertheless is the severity of the sentence. Those who will probably be recognized because the leaders of the motion threat life imprisonment.

– Listen to Globo: The finish of Hong Kong

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The native parliament elections in Hong Kong (those for which the primaries had been organised) had been as a consequence of be held in September 2020, and plenty of predicted a victory for the pro-democracy events. However, the federal government postponed it for greater than a 12 months, utilizing the coronavirus pandemic as a cause. They had been lastly held in December 2021, however by then the arrests and repression had develop into so sturdy that not a single Democratic MP was elected.

Meanwhile, after the primary nationwide safety regulation in 2020, the Hong Kong authorities handed one other, much more repressive, regulation in March this 12 months. The first arrests beneath the brand new regulation they occurred simply Tuesday.

– Read additionally: Hong Kong’s damaged guarantees

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