A Hong Kong court sentenced seven democracy activists to between 11 and 16 months in prison. They were found guilty of organizing a protest in October 2019.
Activists were charged with organizing and inciting others to participate in an illegal gathering on October 20, 2019. That day, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong, and the police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse them.
Among the inmates was Figo Chan, founder of the now defunct Civil Front of Human Rights, and Raphael Wong and Avery Ng from the League of Social Democrats. Penalties for all activists range from 11 to 16 months in prison. The convicts pleaded guilty to the charges against them, the Reuters agency reported.
“We hope everyone understands that this is political persecution,” said Chan Po-ying, president of the League of Social Democrats, in court.
Judge Amanda Woodcock ruled that while Hong Kong’s constitution guarantees “freedom of assembly and demonstration,” these rights are “not absolute.” “The restrictions were imposed in the interests of security and public order and to protect the rights and freedoms of others,” said the judge, referring to events from two years ago.
Imposed Beijing law
The sentences against seven democratic activists were the next in connection with brutally suppressed demonstrations in Hong Kong in 2019. People protested against the project to allow the extradition of suspects from Hong Kong to mainland China, where the courts are subordinate to the Chinese Communist Party.
Authorities initially withdrew the project, but in 2020, after the protests ended in the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing imposed even stricter state security regulations on Hong Kong, similar to the ones used on the continent to fight dissent.
Main photo source: Reuters