They were previously found guilty of organizing and participating in a massive protest in August 2019, in which an estimated 1.7 million people marched in opposition to a bill that would have allowed suspects extradited to mainland China. The march was not authorized by the police.
Their conviction and conviction is another blow to the city’s fluttering democracy movement, which is facing an unprecedented breakdown by the authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong.
The court suspended the 11-month prison sentence on Lee, an 82-year-old lawyer and former lawmaker known for his spokesman for human rights and democracy, for two years because of his age.
Lai, the founder of Hong Kong’s ple Daily tabloid, was sentenced to 12 months in prison. He was already detained on other charges, including collaborating with foreign forces to intervene in the city’s affairs – a new crime under a comprehensive national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020.
Lee Cheuk-yan, a pro-democracy activist and former lawmaker who helped organize annual candlelight vigils in Hong Kong on the anniversary of the bloody break-up of pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989, was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
Lawyers Albert Ho and Margaret Ng had both their 12-month prison sentences suspended for two years. Former lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung was sentenced to 18 months in prison, while another former lawmaker, Cyd Ho, was sentenced to eight months in prison.
Two other former lawmakers, Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung, who previously pleaded guilty, were also sentenced to prison terms. Au was given 10 months, while Leung’s eight months’ imprisonment was suspended for one year.
“I am ready to tackle the sanction and sentencing, and I am proud to be able to join the people of Hong Kong in this democracy,” Lee Cheuk-yan said ahead of the trial as supporters held up signs condemning political persecution. . “We will walk together even in darkness, we will walk with hope in our hearts.”
Hong Kong had had a vibrant political culture and freedoms not seen elsewhere in China for decades when it was a British colony.
Beijing had promised to allow the city to preserve civil liberties for 50 years after returning to Chinese rule in 1997, but has recently launched a series of measures, including national security legislation and electoral reform, which many fear is a step closer. to do Hong Kong is no different than the mainland cities.
Under the new rules, Hong Kong residents can be held accountable for any speech or action that is considered separatist, subversive, terrorist or perceived as a cooperation agreement with hostile foreign political groups or individuals. Election changes mean that only 20 out of 90 members of the Legislative Council will be elected directly, and Beijing will retain even tighter control over the body that elects Hong Kong’s future executives.
Hong Kong’s last British governor, Chris Patten, said the Chinese Communist Party’s “comprehensive attack” on Hong Kong’s freedoms and its rule of law is still relentless.
“This week we have witnessed some of the most prominent of the city’s peaceful and moderate masters of freedom and democracy located in Beijing’s vengeful sights,” he said in a statement. “The CCP simply does not understand that you cannot annihilate and capture people to love a totalitarian and corrupt regime.”