Nine Hong Kong opposition veterans were sentenced on Tuesday for their role in organizing one of the biggest protests to take place in the city during the 2019 political crisis, according to journalists from Agence France-Presse (AFP) on site.
Among the nine are some of the most respected figures in the struggle for freedoms in the former British colony, often apostles of non-violence who have been mobilized for decades for the establishment of true universal suffrage. . One of the most famous is the 82-year-old lawyer Martin Lee, who before the handover in 1997 was chosen by Beijing to draft the Basic Law, which serves as a mini-constitution in the semi-autonomous region.
Read also: Figures from the pro-democracy fight in Hong Kong in court for a protest in 2019
Former opposition MP and lawyer Margaret Ng, 73, or media mogul Jimmy Lai and ex-MP Leung Kwok-hung known by the nickname “Long Hair”. The latter two are currently in pre-trial detention due to separate prosecutions in the name of the draconian national security law that Beijing imposed in late June 2020.
Up to 5 years in prison
The others are leading figures of the Civil Front for Human Rights (CHRF), the coalition that organized the biggest protests in 2019, when the city experienced its worst political crisis since the handover in 1997, with actions and almost daily mobilizations.
The Hong Kong District Court found seven guilty of organizing and participating in an illegal gathering. The other two had pleaded guilty. They face up to five years in prison.
To continue reading: A rally in support of the 47 opponents indicted in Hong Kong
The case concerns the organization of an unauthorized rally on August 18, 2019, which had been one of the largest protests in seven months of protest. Organizers had reported 1.7 million demonstrators that day, which would represent nearly one in four Hong Kongers. This figure could not be verified independently. For hours, a huge procession had peacefully traversed the streets of central Hong Kong Island.
The use by the authorities of the qualification of “organizing and participating in an unauthorized assembly” has long been denounced in Hong Kong by human rights associations.
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