Seven Hong Kong activists were convicted on Thursday for their participation in 2019 pro-democracy protests.
Media mogul Jimmy Lai, who owns the pro-democracy and anti-government Apple Daily newspaper, was among the activists convicted of unlawful assembly, the BBC reported. All seven activists, who claimed freedom of assembly protections under Hong Kong’s constitution, will face jail time.
Jimmy Lai, guilty.
Martin Lee, guilty.
Ho Chun Yan, guilty.
Margaret Ng, guilty.
Cyd Ho, guilty.
“Long Hair” Leung Kwok Hung, guilty.
Leung Yiu Chung, guilty.
Au Nok Hin, guilty.
Lee Cheuk Yan, guilty.
Peaceful protest is not a crime.
Demanding democracy is not a crime. pic.twitter.com/0K4p6LQzVO
— HKDC – Hong Kong Democracy Council (@hkdc_us) April 1, 2021
The seven activists participated in massive August 2019 protests against a law that would have allowed mainland China to extradite Hong Kongers charged with crimes. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam eventually withdrew the proposal. (RELATED: Brutal Clash Ensues Between Rioters And Police In Hong Kong Over Fate Of Extradition Bill)
Lai was most recently arrested in December 2020 under China’s new National Security law, which grants the mainland Chinese government broad authority to crack down on Hong Kong political dissent. Many Hong Kongers believe that the National Security law and another law requiring Hong Kong politicians to express “patriotism” for the Chinese Communist Party will spell the end of the island’s “one country, two systems” policy.
Great Britain, which controlled Hong Kong as a protectorate, relinquished the island to China in 1997. As part of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which formalized the handover, China agreed to the “one country, two systems” policy. The policy meant that Hong Kong would “keep its capitalist system, have its own government,” according to NPR.
“We will still march on no matter what lies in the future,” Lee Cheuk-yan, who was also convicted on Thursday, promised, according to NPR.
Republican Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse slammed the convictions.
“The Chinese Communist Party is terrified of free thought and free expression. So these kangaroo courts target anyone who tells the truth. This sham conviction only makes Jimmy Lai a bigger hero and Chairman Xi a smaller coward,” he said in a press release.