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Hong Kong Political Activists Faced Subversion Trial

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Hong Kong political activists face subversion trial

(CTN NEWS) – HONG KONG – On Monday, some of the most well-known pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong faced trial in the largest case under a statute that the Communist Party of China‘s ruling government enacted to stifle dissent.

The 18 suspects may receive a life sentence if found guilty under the national security statute, which critics claim undermines Hong Kong’s autonomy and reputation as a major international financial hub.

They were among the 47 pro-democracy activists detained in 2021 under the laws put into place as a result of events in 2019 In relation to a non-official 2020 primary election; they were accused.

After activists were imprisoned or fled into exile, the pro-democracy movement generally died down.

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Pro-democracy activist Emily Lau Wai-hing gestures as she arrives at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts in Hong Kong, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023.(AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)

As Hong Kong‘s Western-style civil rights have been eroded, many young professionals have fled to the United Kingdom, the United States, and other nations. The United States levied sanctions on those it believed were responsible for the abuses.

The goal of the 2020 primary was to select pro-democracy candidates who could take over the territory’s Legislative Council.

They are charged with attempting to use their majority veto power to paralyze Hong Kong’s government and remove the city’s chief executive.

The prosecutor’s opening statement stated that the conspiracy’s goal was to undermine the state’s authority.

Many of the city’s most well-known activists are being prosecuted, including legal scholar Benny Tai, former student leader Joshua Wong, opposition party leaders Wu Chi-wai and Alvin Yeung, and Joshua Wong.

The prosecutor claimed that Tai and four other people were heavily involved in organizing the election.

The 18 activists had previously intended to enter a not-guilty plea.

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Pro-democracy activist Lee Yue-shun arrives at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts to attend his national security trial in Hong Kong, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)

However, two of them, businessman Mike Lam and former district councilor Ng Kin-wai, eventually changed their minds and joined the other 29 activists, including Tai, Wong, Yeung, and Wu, who intend to plead guilty.

Former legislators Raymond Chan and Helena Wong appeared in court on Monday and were among the minority who were granted bail based on tight terms.

Most of the 47 activists charged with conspiracy to conduct subversion have been held without bail for nearly two years.

The two and 14 other activists entered a not-guilty plea before the judges, who the mayor of the city had appointed to preside over the case, before to the opening arguments.

Former politician Leung Kwok-hung declared, “There is no crime for me to plead guilty.” Ng and Lam admitted their guilt.

After the trial, those who plan to enter guilty pleas will be sentenced. Lester Shum, a former district councilor, and Joshua Wong were among those who were present in the courtroom to watch the trial.

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A policeman stands to watch as people wait outside the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts ahead of the national security trial for the pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)

According to information provided to the court, four of the 47 activists would testify as prosecution witnesses.

More than 200 people, including friends and family of the defendants, gathered outside the courthouse earlier in the day as local police increased security in the vicinity.

Some persons in the front of the line, such as a group of more than 10 who arrived at 6 a.m. to reserve a seat for the hearing, claimed they had no idea what the case included.

That made some of the attendees, who were pro-democracy activists wonder if they were merely trying to take up the seats so that other public members would not be able to watch the prominent trial.

A modest demonstration was organized outside the facility by three members of the League of Social Democrats to demand the immediate release of all political prisoners.

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Pro-democracy activist Cheng Tat-hung, center, arrives at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts to attend his national security trial in Hong Kong, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023.(AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)

Primary elections are not illegal. One of the members, Chan Po-ying, referred to this as political repression.

When her coworker removed his mask and attempted to talk loudly, police arrested him for breaking the mask law.

The 90-day trial is anticipated to take place. International media attention has been focused on the case, and politicians and advocacy groups have denounced the accusations.

Hana Young, deputy regional director for Amnesty International, demanded that the charges be withdrawn, claiming that the activists were made to choose between giving up and losing the fight or accepting responsibility for “a non-existent crime.”

She claimed that the Hong Kong government was seeking to stop all substantive political engagement in Hong Kong with the mass trial.

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People gather outside the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts ahead of the national security trial for the pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Anthony Kwan)

She pointed to the demonstration outside the court as evidence that the government would never be able to completely quiet dissenters.

In light of the public health dangers posed by the coronavirus epidemic, the administration decided to postpone the parliamentary election scheduled to take place after the primary.

Later, the electoral process was changed to allow Beijing more control over who is chosen to represent Hong Kong in the legislature.

The national security law makes it a crime to collaborate with foreign forces to meddle in local affairs, secession, subversion, and terrorism. Along with the activists, pro-democracy publisher Jimmy Lai is being charged with collaboration.


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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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