Hong Kong Convicts 14 in Crackdown on Dissent

Case against pro-democracy activists is the city's biggest under national security law
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 30, 2024 2:19 AM CDT
14 Pro-Democracy Activists Convicted in Hong Kong
Lee Yue-shun, a former pro-democracy district councilor, arrives at the West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts in Hong Kong, Thursday, May 30, 2024, ahead of verdicts in national security case.   (AP Photo/Chan Long Hei)

A Hong Kong court Thursday convicted 14 pro-democracy activists in the city's biggest national security case under a law imposed by Beijing that has all but wiped out public dissent. Those found guilty of conspiracy to commit subversion include former lawmakers Leung Kwok-hung, Lam Cheuk-ting, Helena Wong, and Raymond Chan, and they could face up to life in prison when sentenced, the AP reports. The two defendants acquitted were former district councilors Lee Yue-shun and Lawrence Lau. They were among 47 democracy advocates who were prosecuted in 2021 for their involvement in an unofficial primary election. Prosecutors had accused them of attempting to paralyze Hong Kong's government and topple the city's leader by securing the legislative majority necessary to indiscriminately veto budgets.

When Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, Beijing promised to retain the city's Western-style civil liberties for 50 years. However, since the introduction of the 2020 law, Hong Kong authorities have severely limited free speech and assembly under the rubric of maintaining national security. Many activists were arrested, silenced, or forced into self-exile. Dozens of civil society groups disbanded. Observers said this subversion case illustrates how the security law is being used to crush the political opposition following huge anti-government protests in 2019. But the Beijing and Hong Kong governments insisted the law has helped bring back stability to the city and that judicial independence was being protected. (Much more here.)

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