Reuters file photo: Democrat activist Figo Chan hints as he walks in a prison van to seek refuge in a courthouse in Hong Kong, China, on October 2, 2021, in connection with an unauthorized rally. Reuters / Lam Ek
By Jesse Pang
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Seven Hong Kong democracy preachers, including a former lawmaker, were sentenced to 12 months in prison on Saturday for their role in protesting against China’s national security law imposed last year.
Seven people pleaded guilty to organizing an unauthorized rally on July 1, 1970, when thousands of protesters took to the streets. Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the CTNBG coronavirus ban.
Among the activists were Figo Chan, a former convener of the now-defunct Civil Rights Front (CHRF); Sang Qin-shing and Tang Sai-lai of the Social Democrats League; Former District Councilor Andy Chui; And former MLAs Wu Chi-wai, Eddie Chu and Leung Kook-hang.
Chan was sentenced to 12 months in prison, while others were sentenced to six to ten months in prison.
“The nature of the provocation was serious,” Judge Douglas Yau said, adding that it created a risk of violence.
Beijing issued a national security law on June 30 last year in response to widespread anti-government protests in 2019. The law, enacted by China, penalizes secession, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers.
The next day was the protests – the first full day under the new law, although civil society groups demonstrated year after year to win on various issues, including democratic rights.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with a promise to protect its broader independence and higher autonomy. Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly denied human rights and freedoms.
“We can only choose civil disobedience … a peaceful, reasonable and non-violent way to express our demands against the National Security Act,” Figo Chan said calmly.
“To uphold the belief in civil disobedience, I have decided to plead guilty, acknowledging that I have violated the” bad public order law. “
At least 370 people were arrested that day for illegal assembly and other crimes, including ten involved in security breaches.
Tong Ying-kit, the first person convicted under the National Security Act, was sentenced in July to nine years in prison for inciting terrorism and inciting separatism.
His motorcycle was allegedly driven by riot police that day while carrying a flag with the slogan “Forbidden Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time”.
According to the Security Bureau, more than 150 people have been arrested under the National Security Act. Of those, 100 have been formally charged.
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