Dozens of people rallied for court seats in Hong Kong before media mogul Jimmy Lai and nine pro-democracy politicians and activists were convicted after they were convicted of taking part in unauthorized rallies during anti-government protests in 2012. .
It is the first time that Laike, one of Hong Kong’s main proponents of democracy, has been jailed since December after being denied bail in a separate national security case.
About 100 people lined up outside the court on Friday morning to get seats for the hearing.
“In the past, it was already very difficult to fight for democracy and freedom. It’s even tougher with the national security law, ”Ian, a 19-year-old student, told Reuters, referring to a larger law imposed by China last year.
“We need to believe in faith and wait for the time to come again,” he said, declining to give his full name because of the student’s sensitivity to the subject.
Lai was convicted in two separate trials for illegal rallies on August 18 and August 31, 2019, respectively, in early April. The maximum sentence is five years imprisonment.
Lai and the repeated arrests of pro-democracy politicians and activists have criticized Western governments and international rights groups, who have expressed concern about the loss of independence in the region, whose people were guaranteed civil rights and returned to Chinese rule in 1997 when there was unknown freedom on the mainland.
In the Aug. 16 case, District Court Judge Amanda Woodcock convicted Martin Lee, 62, who helped launch the city’s largest opposition Democratic Party in the 1990s and co-drafted the region’s petty constitution. He is often called the “father of democracy” in the former British colony.
As he entered court on Friday, Lee said: “I feel completely comfortable, I’m ready to face my sentence.”
Other defendants have also been convicted, including prominent barrister Margaret Ng, who included 733 and senior Democrats Lee Cheuk-yan, Albert Ho, Leng Kov-hong, Sid Ho, Au Nok-hin and Laing Yu-chung. The second pleaded guilty.
Police allowed a rally in Victoria Park that day but denied the group permission to walk. Thousands of people filled the park and scattered on the streets.
In the second trial, the same judge convicted Lai and Lee together with a politician and academic, Young Soom. During the protests, police fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters, some of whom hurled petrol bombs.
All the three accused had been convicted earlier.
Late Thursday night, Lee posted on Facebook that he was optimistic he would go to jail but his mind was “as free as the sea and the sky”.
The government’s plans for a repatriation bill with the mainland sparked pro-democracy protests in 2012, and Beijing’s harsh contraction over Hong Kong created the region’s biggest crisis.
Beijing has since limited its adherence to the National Security Act, which punishes it for anything considered separatism, insurgency, terrorism or alliances with foreign forces, including imprisonment.
Proponents of the law say it has restored stability to the region. Critics say it has criminalized dissent.
“These lawsuits come at a time when China is seeking to restore order in Hong Kong through its National Security Act, and national security is now being illed at people at all levels,” said Adrian Brown of Al Jazeera.
On Wednesday, the region’s government organized National Security Education Day For the first time for school children, events – including re-police raids on metro trains, taking pictures in front of water cannon trucks and handling weapons – and the police are officially showing a goose-action show including
Lai Hong, founder of the Apple Daily tabloid, met regularly with officials, including former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to rally support for democracy in Hong Kong. Beijing has branded him a “traitor.”
Lai is due to mention two more courts on Friday, in a national security trial where there are lawsuits against him over cooperation with foreign countries and Apple Daily’s lease. Dozens of police stormed the newspaper headquarters After Lai’s arrest last August
Earlier this week, the tabloid Lai released a handwritten letter from prison to his colleagues: “It is our responsibility to demand justice for journalists. Unless we are blinded by unjust temptations, unless we allow evil to run through us, we I am fulfilling my responsibilities. ”
“It’s time for us to grow taller,” he wrote