With everything that’s happening in Myanmar, you thought you would not hear about Hong Kong’s activists again – until now.
On Sunday (28 Feb), 47 activists and democrats from Hong Kong were charged with conspiracy to commit subversion.
This is the largest single crackdown on opposition under a national security law imposed by China.
47 Activists Charged For Security Crime in Hong Kong
According to this article by Al Jazeera, 47 people had been charged in court with one count each of “conspiracy to commit subversion”. They were scheduled to appear in court on Monday morning (1 Mar).
Activist Sam Cheung was charged after reporting to a local police station. He had been arrested in a dawn raid together with over 50 democrats on 6 Jan.
Before entering the station, he told reporters, “Hong Kongers have a really tough time these days… I hope everyone won’t give up on Hong Kong… (and) fight on.”
Cheung and the other democrats were accused of coordinating and taking part in an unofficial primary election back in July 2020 to appoint candidates for a legislative council election.
Many of these candidates had eventually been disqualified, and the election was ultimately cancelled because of the pandemic.
However, the primary election had been blasted by Hong Kong and Chinese officials as a ploy to “overthrow” and “paralyse” the government, therefore concluding that it was a national security threat.
According to CNA, during that time, people had been detained, questioned, and some even had their mobile phones and laptops taken away.
They were then released pending further investigations.
The New National Security Law
Here’s a brief rundown of the new national security law imposed by China back in 2020.
Beijing imposed a national security law on Hong Kong on 30 June 2020. The law basically criminalises acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
These acts are punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The passing of this law has led to major concerns over the loss of freedoms, in particular the freedom of expression. There are also worries about the implications of this law on personal security.
There were also concerns over the diminishing of Hong Kong’s judicial independence, with fears that the judicial system will become more like that of mainland China’s.
Additionally, people were anxious that this new law could have an adverse impact on Hong Kong’s appeal as a top international business hub.
According to the Hong Kong police, so far 99 people have been arrested for alleged breaches of the security laws.
Among those arrested, some have been denied bail, such as prominent China critic Jimmy Lai, even in spite of legal appeals.
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