Nine pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong have been sentenced to up to 10 months in prison after participating in last year’s surveillance commemorating the death of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, which was banned by police.
The court on Wednesday awarded suspended sentences to three others. All of them were among 12 people who pleaded guilty to participating in the surveillance earlier this month.
Hong Kongers hold a mass vigil on June 4 every year to commemorate the deaths of those killed in the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing.
But officials had banned the event for the past two years in a row, citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the ban, thousands of students and activists gathered to light candles as they feared the ban would be part of a larger crackdown on the former British colony.
Amnesty International condemned the decision, describing it as “another humiliating attack” on the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong, noting that the guilty had committed no internationally recognizable crime.
Yamini Mishra, Asia-Pacific director of Amnesty International, said in a statement, “Yet the worse could be for the vigilante organizers – some of whom are facing more serious, yet less counterfeit, ‘national security’ charges.” Huh.”
Police arrested more than 20 activists, including leaders of the Hong Kong coalition in support of China’s patriotic democratic movements, after dozens of people broke down barriers set up around the Victoria Park site to gather and light candles.
The Hong Kong Alliance group had been organizing a wake-up call to mourn the deaths of those killed in the action for over 30 years.
Albert Ho, former chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance and veteran vigilance organizer, was sentenced to 10 months while he is already serving a prison sentence on other unauthorized assemblies.
Former MPs Eddie Choo and Figo Chan, former leaders of the Civil Human Rights Front, known for organizing massive pro-democracy rallies, pleaded guilty and were given prison sentences.
Eight others, including the defunct Apple Daily newspaper founder Jimmy Lai and coalition leader Lee Cheuk-yan, who were accused of participating in last year’s surveillance, pleaded not guilty and will go to trial in November.
During Wednesday’s sentencing, District Court Judge Amanda Woodcock said: “The defendants ignored and minimized a real public health crisis.”
“They wrongly and arrogantly believed that their common purpose was more important than protecting the community or the public’s right to safety from serious health risk.”
In scenes seen during sentencing, supporters of defendants in a public gallery stood up and waved while shouting “wait there,” reported Hong Kong Free Press. The defenders waved back and held their fists in the air standing from the docks.
The decision comes after police raided the premises of a closed June 4 museum dedicated to Tiananmen victims last week. In the same week, police arrested several members of the Hong Kong coalition under a national security law imposed by Beijing last year and accused them of being “agents of foreign forces”. The coalition had denied the allegation.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /