A Hong Kong court on Friday declared sentences to several prominent pro-democracy figures including media magnate Jimmy Lai, international lawyer Margaret Ng, and Democratic Party founder Martin Lee , while prosecutors brought two additional charges under the national security law against Lai.
Lai, 72, and veteran unionist Lee Cheuk-yan, 64, were jailed for 12 months under the Public Order Ordinance (POO) after the court found them guilty of participating in “illegal assembly. “on August 18, 2019.
Veteran rights campaigner and opposition lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, 65, was sentenced to 18 months, with former lawmaker and rights activist Au Nok-hin 10 months and former Labor Party MP Cyd Ho 8 months.
The court sentenced to 12 months of suspended prison terms for lawyer and former opposition MP Margaret Ng, 73, and Martin Lee, 82, the founding chairman of the Hong Kong Democratic Party, who is known as the “father of the foundation. Hong Kong democracy. “
Human rights lawyer Albert Ho, 69, was also sentenced to 12 months of suspended prison term, while labor rights activist and former MP Leung Yiu-chung, 67, were sentenced to 8 months of probationary prison.
When asked if she has anything to say, Margaret Ng, who is defending herself, said trust in the court has been eroded by using POO to convict peaceful activists. exercise the right to peaceful assembly and demonstration according to the promises made in the Basic Law of the city and the rights bill.
“The law should protect rights, not strip them of that right,” Ng said in court, adding that she criticized POO for serving on the Legislative Council (LegCo) two decades ago. “People rely on law to protect them, and courts are the ultimate arbiter of the law.”
“When the law of the court takes away its fundamental rights, trust in the court and the independence of the judiciary will be shaken, even though the error lies in the law, not the judge applying the law, and That will affect our background of the rule of law, ”Ng said.
Charged with illegal assembly
In another case, also at the West Kowloon First Instance Court, Jimmy Lai and Lee Cheuk-yan were sentenced to an additional two months in prison each related to a prayer protest on August 31, also for ” illegal gathering. “
Former Democratic Party chairman Yeung Sum, 73, was sentenced to eight months on the same charges, suspended for 12 months, said Judge Amanda Woodcock, who presided over both cases.
Woodcock said, the three men pleaded guilty and received shorter sentences due to their age, health condition and confession.
China Labor Bulletin (Club) chief executive Han Dongfang, also an RFA broadcaster, said Lee Cheuk-yan has done what a union member anywhere in the world would do.
“As a union leader and democracy activist, Lee Cheuk-yan’s far-reaching leadership in fighting for the economic and political rights of the workers has inspired many. young people in Hong Kong, “Han said in a statement on the club website.
“His sentence will certainly not weaken his fighting spirit. On the contrary, it will encourage the younger generation to join the fight for a better life and justice in the city”, he said.
A full-blown attack
Former colonial Hong Kong governor Chris Patten, now Lord Patten of Barnes, said the sentences were part of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) “full-scale assault” of autonomy. by and the rule of law of Hong Kong.
“This week, we saw some of the city’s most famous fighters for peaceful and peaceful freedom and democracy put on Beijing’s vengeance target.” , Patten said in comments posted on the UK-based human rights organization Hong Kong Watch website.
Patten said: “The CCP simply doesn’t understand that you cannot excuse and imprison people to cherish a totalitarian and corrupt regime,” said Patten, adding that the CCP is happy to continue using it. the city “as a secret vehicle for Beijing’s families and friends. leaders keep the proceeds of their corruption. “
Patten also signed a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for Magnitsky-style sanctions on officials involved in Hong Kong’s suppression of freedoms, as well as ongoing human rights abuses. takes place against the Uighurs and other ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
“It is clear that the ‘golden era’ of relations with China is now over,” Patten wrote.
Stephen Kinnock, Minister for Asia and the Pacific, said it was “a dark day for democracy, freedom of speech and freedom in Hong Kong,” while US Senator Mitt Romney called for release. Lai, Lee and other activists immediately.
‘Hong Kong lost soul’
Canadian MP Jenny Kwan said Hong Kong had “lost its soul” to the celebrations on Friday.
“The sentencing of these libertarians marks a dark day where the Pearl of the Orient has lost its soul,” she said, calling on the Canadian government to provide shelter to Hong Kong people. run away from oppression.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong prosecutors added two more charges to Jimmy Lai’s indictment, accusing him of “urging foreign countries or organizations to impose sanctions. Hong Kong. “
The crime is believed to have been committed between July 1, 2020, and February 15, 2021, with his assistants Mark Simon, Chan Tsz-wah, Andy Li and Finn Lau among His accomplices, Lai’s Apple Daily newspaper reported.
Outside the West Kowloon First Instance Court, supporters chanted “Shame on the political prosecution!” and “Peaceful demonstration is not a crime!”
“We have the right to protest!” and calls for five requests for the protest movement in 2019 have also been heard.
Before going to court, Lee Cheuk-yan said he was honored to walk with Hong Kong residents, citing the song “You’re Never Walk Alone.”
“The people of Hong Kong will never be alone, because we are walking through the storm together, even in the dark,” he said. “We are proud to be able to walk together with the people of Hong Kong on the path to democracy.”
Reports by Lau Siu Fung, Lu Xi and Chan Yun Nam to RFA’s Cantonese and Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.