A Hong Kong court has found seven activists guilty of participating in an unauthorized protest in 2019. The group includes well-known pro-democracy activist Martin Lee and media mogul Jimmy Loy. Two more activists pleaded guilty.
They are accused of organizing one of the largest protests in the Chinese Special Administrative Region in 2019. Following Thursday’s sentencing, it was not immediately clear when the sentence would be announced.
The court ruling is the latest blow to Hong Kong’s democratic movement, which is breaking with Beijing. In recent months, especially since the introduction of a controversial security law in the summer, many prominent activists have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for relatively minor offenses. Numerous Hong Kong activists have recently fled to other countries for fear of being prosecuted.
It was only on Tuesday that China passed the controversial reform of the electoral law for its special administrative region, which would further reduce the influence of the democratic camp. Electoral law aims to ensure that Hong Kong is “ruled by patriots.” Observers had warned that the reform would actually bury democracy in Hong Kong. Because, in Beijing’s view, only those who follow the path of the Communist Party are “patriotic.”
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Most criminals have been quietly fighting for decades for direct elections to be held in Hong Kong. Organizers estimate that 1.7 million people took part in the demonstration on August 18, 2019 – almost a quarter of Hong Kong residents. It is not possible to independently verify the number of participants.
Since July 1, 1997, Hong Kong has been part of China again, but is governed by the principle of “one country, two organizations”. The agreement actually provides that Hong Kongers will enjoy “high autonomy” and many freedoms for 50 years until 2047. However, since the enactment of the Security Act, many have spoken only of “one country, one organization.” (dpa, AFP)