The 47 Pro-Democracy Figures in Hong Kong’s Largest National Security Trial

Forty-seven pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong have been accused of a conspiracy to commit subversion in a landmark political case. Most of the defendants have been in jail for practically two years whereas awaiting trial.

The case highlights the sweeping energy of a nationwide safety regulation China imposed to tighten its grip on town after large anti-government protests. These are the politicians, lecturers and activists who at the moment are going through jail sentences.

Benny Tai, 58, was a professor of regulation on the College of Hong Kong.

Joshua Wong, 26, turned a outstanding activist on the age of 14.

Twelve had been elected lawmakers, who had usually used their presence within the legislature to protest China’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Mo had served as a lawmaker for eight years and is named “Auntie Mo.”

Higher often known as “Lengthy Hair,” Leung had been a mainstay of the opposition for practically 20 years.

Chan was Hong Kong’s first overtly homosexual lawmaker.

Twenty-one had been elected district officers, together with youthful activists who had been voted in following months of anti-government protests in 2019.

Sham was a frontrunner of an activist group that organized large pro-democracy rallies all through 2019.

Others had been outstanding activists who had labored on numerous social causes.

Ng was a former flight attendant who turned a union chief.

Wong was a pupil chief who started her activism when she was in highschool.

Prolonged Detentions With out Trial

The 47 defendants had been first charged in February 2021 with subversion in a case centering on the holding of an unofficial main vote.

Not like different sorts of offenses, nationwide safety instances impose a excessive threshold for bail, which, in impact, lets the authorities maintain defendants for months and even years earlier than trial. Critics say that quantities to a presumption that defendants are responsible.

In hearings earlier than the trial, 16 pleaded not responsible and 31 pleaded responsible, together with Benny Tai and Joshua Wong. Most, if not all, of the 47 are anticipated to obtain jail sentences, which may vary from lower than three years to life.

The defendants and their legal professionals are barred from commenting on the case. However authorized consultants say the democracy proponents are seemingly underneath monumental strain to plead responsible due to the prolonged detentions, dwindling monetary assets and the tough possibilities of successful in a court docket modeled after China’s authoritarian system.

“The method is designed to be as painful as doable,” mentioned Samuel Bickett, a lawyer and activist based mostly in Washington, D.C., who was jailed in Hong Kong after struggling with a plainclothes police officer in 2019.

The Transformation of Hong Kong’s Political Panorama

Hong Kong was engulfed in widespread protests calling for larger freedom from China beginning in June 2019. To quell the unrest, Beijing imposed a nationwide safety regulation in June 2020, days earlier than the 47 democrats held the first election that will result in their arrests months later for subversion.

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Almost three-quarters of the 47 have been jailed ever since, a span of virtually two years. Their absence contributed to the dearth of anti-establishment voices in Hong Kong’s legislature, which handed controversial measures with out opposition akin to a “patriots solely” litmus check for political candidates.

Protests started

Mass antigovernment protests started and escalated in depth over months.

Nationwide safety regulation enacted

The brand new regulation bans vaguely outlined crimes of secession, subversion and terrorism, with a possible sentence of life in jail.

Professional-democracy main

Professional-democracy candidates held a main vote forward of the upcoming Legislative Council election. The 47 defendants helped arrange or participated on this occasion.

Authentic date of the election

47 folks charged, most denied bail

They had been charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion,” for organizing and taking part within the pro-democracy main. Most had been denied bail and saved behind bars as a protracted authorized course of started.

New election guidelines introduced

China introduced new guidelines for Hong Kong elections, limiting candidates to solely these deemed loyal to Beijing.

“Patriots-only” election takes place

Greater than 30 defendants are at the moment detained. Most of them had been jailed for nearly two years earlier than the trial even began.

The trial is anticipated to final three months.

Jean Nicholas

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