Hong Kong Free Press: Judgement in Tong Ying Kit’s case sets dangerous precedent, ignores human rights law

International rights bodies generally hold that “speech must contain a direct incitement to violent action, and that there must be a clear nexus between that speech and likely or actual violence” – but this was not the case in the city’s first national security trial, write Eric Lai and Thomas Kellogg.

Eric Y. H. Lai & Thomas E. Kellogg

Tong Ying-Kit, a former waiter and pro-democracy protester, stepped into history this week: on Tuesday, he became the first individual convicted under Hong Kong’s year-old National Security Law (NSL). He was found guilty of terrorism and inciting secession by a three-judge panel, and was imprisoned for nine years on Friday.

The verdict in Tong’s case will stand as a landmark for a number of reasons: Tong became the first person to be convicted of a so-called speech crime – a crime in which the act of speech itself is criminalised – in Hong Kong since the 1970s, and is also the first person ever to be convicted of terrorism by the city’s courts.

The facts of the case are well-known. On July 1, 2020, less than 24 hours after the NSL went into effect, Tong took part in the annual pro-democracy protest, marking the anniversary of Hong Kong’s reversion to Chinese sovereignty with calls for democratic reform. He drove his motorcycle at high speeds during the protest, while carrying a banner emblazoned with one of the key slogans from the massive 2019 protest movement: “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times.”

Tong initially evaded police barricades but was eventually stopped. He struck some police officers with his motorcycle while attempting to evade arrest, three of whom were injured. Tong himself suffered an injured leg in the incident.

Read full analysis at  https://hongkongfp.com/2021/07/31/judgement-in-tong-ying-kits-case-sets-dangerous-precedent-ignores-human-rights-law/