Hong Kong (dpa) – For the first time, a court in Hong Kong has ruled under the controversial security law. Tong Ying-kit, 24, was convicted in China’s Special Administrative Region on Tuesday for terrorism and incitement to separatism.
The former restaurant worker drove his motorcycle into a police cordon during protests, just hours after the law came into effect on July 1 last year. He carried a flag with the slogan of the protest movement “Liberate Hong Kong – Revolution of Our Time”.
Initially, the conviction did not impose a penalty. However, the 24-year-old faces a life sentence, Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK reports. In particular, the interpretation of the slogan about the liberation of Hong Kong took much of the process and is expected to have far-reaching implications for further legal proceedings under the Security Act. More than 100 people have been arrested under the law so far.
The judge ruled that the ‘Free Hong Kong’ appeal had separatist meaning and could encourage others to pursue the secession of the former British Crown Colony from the People’s Republic of China. “We have no problem coming to the firm conclusion that the slogan of July 1, 2020 was appropriate to convey the meaning of the separation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region from the People’s Republic and that we could call on others to secede. »
The incident took place during unauthorized protests on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997, which the judge specifically pointed to in support of the charge of separatism. By showing the flag with the appeal that day, the defendant wanted to get the separatist message across and incite others.
The terrorism charge came because Tong Ying-kit did not stop his motorcycle at the barrier, but ran into three police officers and injured them. The judge saw a deliberate act of violence and a serious threat to public safety. However, the defense spoke of an accident and argued that the slogan on the flag was ambiguous.
The verdict came under sharp criticism from human rights organization Amnesty International. Condemning Tong Ying-kit of ‘secession’ for simply flying a flag with a popular political slogan is a violation of international law that prohibits the criminalization of expression unless it poses a specific threat. expert Dirk Pleiter in Berlin. It is a “decisive and ominous moment for human rights in Hong Kong”.
The enactment of the controversial security law more than a year ago sparked violent protests in Hong Kong and around the world. Beijing has passed the law after ongoing protests in China’s Special Administrative Region and calls for greater democracy. It is vaguely directed against activities perceived as subversive, separatist, terrorist or conspirators.
Since then, it has served the authorities to take massive action against the democratic movement in Hong Kong. According to the agreements on the change of sovereignty to China in 1997, the seven million inhabitants of Hong Kong should actually enjoy extensive autonomy and political freedom. The old principle of “one country, two systems” has been replaced with “one country, one system” from the critics’ point of view with the Security Act.