Nine pro-democracy activists sentenced to between six and 10 months in jail, while three others received suspended sentences.
Nine veteran democracy activists in Hong Kong have been sentenced to between six and 10 months in jail for joining last year’s Tiananmen vigil, which was banned by the police.
Three others were sentenced to suspended terms on the same charges of joining an illegal gathering or inciting others to join on Wednesday.
Amnesty International condemned the verdicts as “another outrageous attack” on the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.
“It is scandalous that the 12 people formally convicted today have been imprisoned despite not having committed any internationally recognizable crime. However, worse may happen for the organizers of the vigil, some of whom are also facing more serious, but no less spurious ‘national security’ allegations, “said Amnesty International Asia and Pacific Director Yamini Mishra, in a statement.
The sentencing came a week after the leaders of the group behind the annual vigil were separately charged with inciting subversion following a police raid on a museum in the city dedicated to commemorating the crackdown on Tiananmen Square. in 1989.
The Hong Kong Alliance had organized 30 years of vigils to commemorate the deceased.
Once one of the most visible symbols of Hong Kong’s political freedoms, the June 4 peaceful gathering has been banned for the past two years, with authorities citing the coronavirus pandemic and security fears.
China is in the process of reshaping the territory following massive protests for democracy in 2019 that sometimes escalated into violence, imposing national security legislation last year that criminalizes any act that Beijing deems subversion, secession, ” terrorism “and collusion with foreign forces.
On Tuesday, Chris Tang, a former police chief promoted to security secretary this year, said Hong Kong was working on developing a series of new crimes against national security.
Since Beijing imposed the law, leading figures in democracy have been detained and anyone deemed “unpatriotic” has been purged.
On Wednesday, Albert Ho, a former vice chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance, was given 10 months for incitement and six months for attending the vigil.
Your terms will run at the same time as the 18 months you are already serving in relation to other cases.
No tolerance for political defiance
The 2020 vigil case involved a total of 26 activists from across Hong Kong.
Two, Nathan Law and Sunny Cheung, had already gone into exile before the group was first summoned to court in September last year.
Joshua Wong, Lester Shum, Tiffany Yuen and Janelle Leung were sentenced to prison earlier this year for attending the vigil.
The last eight defendants, who have pleaded not guilty, will be tried in November.
In recent years, the crowds at the annual event had increased as anger escalated over how Beijing was running Hong Kong.
The space for alternative political views in Hong Kong’s once vibrant political landscape has shrunk since the security law was imposed.
More than 100 pro-democracy figures have been arrested under the law, mainly for expressing political opinions.
Most are denied bail and face life in prison if convicted.