Hong Kong democrats face biggest national security trial yet


What’s the trial about?

The defendants had been arrested in reference to an off-the-cuff main election held in July 2020 during which greater than 600,000 voters chosen pro-democracy candidates for a Legislative Council election that was then scheduled for September. Officers later postponed that election, citing the coronavirus pandemic, then held it in December 2021 after election legal guidelines had been overhauled to strictly restrict who can run for workplace.

Lots of the candidates within the main election had vowed to repeatedly veto the federal government’s proposed funds in an effort to power the resignation of Carrie Lam, who was then town’s prime chief. Whereas the candidates described the plan as regular opposition politics, authorities stated it amounted to a “vicious plot” to convey down the federal government.

Additionally they stated it may very well be a violation of the national security legislation that had simply been imposed by Beijing in response to the protests, which typically turned violent. The legislation, which officers say was vital to revive stability, criminalizes subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with international forces.

It has additionally reshaped Hong Kong’s widespread legislation system, permitting for trials with out juries which might be overseen by handpicked judges. Defendants are sometimes denied bail over issues they might commit additional national security offenses, a tactic that critics say is supposed to make them extra cooperative with prosecutors.

Officers deny that Hong Kong’s judicial independence is below menace, pointing to protections within the territory’s Invoice of Rights and mini-constitution.

“All defendants charged with a felony offense have the precise to and can endure a good trial by the judiciary,” the Hong Kong authorities stated in an announcement on Wednesday. “The courts resolve instances strictly in accordance with the proof and all relevant legal guidelines.” 

What’s the trial’s significance?

Hong Kong’s political opposition has already been decimated by the national security legislation and different authorities strikes, with most pro-democracy figures jailed, resigned from politics or residing in self-imposed exile.

The trial of the “Hong Kong 47” offers one other blow to morale and will go away the motion additional divided: Three of the first’s organizers are anticipated to testify in opposition to others.

Those that pleaded responsible probably did so as a result of they hope to obtain shorter sentences, Wang stated. They are going to be sentenced after the trial, which is predicted to final a number of months and draw worldwide consideration.

“I’m grateful that I can nonetheless really feel that I’m not alone in dealing with this yr’s sentencing,” Wong, 26, who’s pleading responsible, stated in a letter posted on Fb in late January thanking those that had written to him in jail.

Wang stated it might even be a “precedent-setting” trial for folks like media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who will not be one of many 47 defendants on this case however faces different national security fees.

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