Hong Kong, China:
Veteran Hong Kong activists went on trial Tuesday for organising one of many greatest democracy protests to engulf town in 2019, a part of a sweeping crackdown focusing on Beijing’s critics.
The 9 defendants embody among the metropolis’s most distinguished pro-democracy campaigners, lots of whom are staunch non-violence advocates who’ve spent many years campaigning in useless for common suffrage.
Among them are Martin Lee, an 82-year-old barrister who was as soon as chosen by Beijing to assist write Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, and Margaret Ng, a 73-year-old barrister and former opposition lawmaker.
Media tycoon Jimmy Lai, at present in custody after his arrest underneath Beijing’s new nationwide safety legislation, can also be amongst these on trial.
Others are main members of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the coalition that organised a sequence of giant rallies all through 2019.
They every resist 5 years in jail if convicted.
As they entered court docket on Tuesday, among the activists flashed a three-finger salute, a logo now used throughout Asia to protest authoritarianism.
The group is being prosecuted for organising an unauthorised meeting on August 18, 2019 — one of many greatest in Hong Kong that 12 months as individuals took to the streets for seven straight months calling for democracy and higher police accountability.
Organisers estimated 1.7 million individuals turned out — nearly one in 4 Hong Kong residents — although that quantity was tough to independently confirm.
Those concerned described it because the second-largest protest of 2019, with demonstrators marching peacefully for hours underneath a sea of umbrellas and thundery skies.
“Assembly not a crime”
At the beginning of Tuesday’s trial — which is anticipated to final 10 days — all besides two defendants pleaded not responsible to the fees.
Veteran dissident Leung Kwok-hung, who has beforehand been jailed for his activism, shouted “Assembly is not a crime, oppose political prosecution” as he pleaded not responsible.
Former CHRF convenor Au Nok-hin pleaded responsible to 2 prices of organising and participating in an illegal meeting whereas former lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung pleaded responsible to collaborating within the march however not responsible to organising it.
Protests in Hong Kong can solely go forward with the permission of authorities and rights teams have lengthy criticised the usage of unauthorised meeting prosecutions.
In their opening assertion, prosecutors accused the group of defying police directions that day and inspiring crowds to march throughout Hong Kong’s major island, bringing visitors disruption.
Since 2019, protests have been all however outlawed with authorities both refusing permission on safety grounds or later due to the pandemic.
The rallies in 2019 usually descended into clashes between riot police and a knot of hardcore members, and posed probably the most concerted problem to China’s rule because the former British colony’s 1997 handover.
The motion finally fizzled out underneath the mixed weight of exhaustion, some 10,000 arrests and the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic.
Authorities have since unleashed a broad crackdown and Beijing has imposed a brand new safety legislation which criminalises a lot dissent.
China and Hong Kong’s leaders say the legislation is required to revive stability to the finance hub.
Critics counter that Beijing has shredded the liberties and autonomy it promised Hong Kong may preserve after the handover.
(This story has not been edited by LiveNews360 workers and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)