Nine veteran Hong Kong activists were convicted on Thursday for their role in organizing one of the largest demonstrations of 2019, a decision that once again illustrates the relentless crackdown in the Chinese region.
Among the nine are some of the most respected personalities in the struggle for freedoms in the former British colony, often apostles of non-violence who have mobilized for decades for the establishment of true universal suffrage.
One of the best known is 82-year-old lawyer Martin Lee, who before the retrocession in 1997 was chosen by Beijing to draft the Basic Law, which serves as a mini-constitution in the semi-autonomous region.
Also on trial were former opposition MP and lawyer Margaret Ng, 73, as well as media mogul Jimmy Lai and former MP Leung Kwok-hung, known by the nickname “Long Hair.”
The latter two are in pre-trial detention for further prosecutions in the name of the draconian national security law that Beijing imposed in late June 2020.
The rest are figures from the Civil Front for Human Rights (CHRF), the coalition that organized the most massive demonstrations of 2019, when the city plunged into its worst political crisis since the transfer of sovereignty in 1997, with almost daily actions and mobilizations. .
The Hong Kong District Court found seven of them guilty of organizing and participating in an illegal rally. The other two had pleaded guilty.
They are exposed to five years in prison.
It is about the organization of an unauthorized demonstration on August 18, 2019, one of the protests that mobilized the most people in seven months.
Organizers accounted for 1.7 million protesters that day, representing nearly one in four Hong Kongers. This figure could not be independently verified.
For hours, a large procession peacefully marched through the streets of central Hong Kong Island.
Hong Kong human rights associations have long complained that the authorities use the term “organizing and participating in an unauthorized rally.”