HONG KONG — Seven Hong Kong pro-democracy advocates had been convicted Thursday on fees of organizing and taking part in an illegal meeting throughout huge anti-government protests in 2019 that triggered a crackdown on dissent.
The seven embrace media tycoon and founding father of the Apple Each day tabloid Jimmy Lai, in addition to 82-year-old Martin Lee, a veteran of the town’s democracy motion. Lai had already been held with out bail on different fees associated to his pro-democracy actions.
They had been convicted for his or her involvement in a protest held on Aug. 18, 2019. Organizers mentioned that 1.7 million folks marched that day in opposition to a proposed invoice that might have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China for trial.
The activists, other than those that have been remanded in custody on different fees, had been granted bail on situation they don’t depart Hong Kong and should hand in all their journey paperwork.
They’ll subsequent seem in court docket on April 16, the place mitigation pleas might be heard earlier than sentences are handed down. Collaborating in an illegal meeting or a riot in Hong Kong may end up in a most sentence of as much as 10 years imprisonment for critical offenses.
Forward of the trial, supporters and among the defendants gathered outdoors the court docket, shouting “Oppose political persecution” and “5 calls for, not one much less,” in reference to calls for by democracy supporters that embrace amnesty for these arrested within the protests in addition to common suffrage within the semi-autonomous territory.
“So on this present day, in a really troublesome scenario in Hong Kong, political retaliation is on us,” Lee Cheuk-yan, one of many defendants, mentioned forward of the court docket session.
“We’ll nonetheless march on it doesn’t matter what lies sooner or later. We imagine within the folks of Hong Kong, in our brothers and sisters in our battle, and the victory is ours if the folks of Hong Kong are persistent,” he mentioned.
Beforehand, two different defendants — former pro-democracy lawmakers Au Nok-hin and Leung Yiu-chung — had pleaded responsible to organizing and collaborating in an unauthorized meeting.
Hong Kong was rocked by months of protests within the second half of 2019, sparked by the extradition invoice. The invoice was ultimately withdrawn, however the protests expanded to incorporate full democracy and different calls for and at occasions descended into violence between demonstrators and police.
Within the aftermath of the protests, Beijing took a tricky stance on dissent, imposing a sweeping nationwide safety regulation on Hong Kong and approving electoral reforms that would cut back public participation in elections and exclude critics from working for the town’s legislature.
China had pledged to permit the town to retain freedoms not permitted elsewhere within the nation for 50 years when it took Hong Kong again from Britain in 1997, however its current steps are seen as a betrayal.