IAPL: China lashes out at criticism of Hong Kong trial of 47 lawmakers and activists

Hong Kong and Chinese officials have hit out at criticism of the trial of 47 former pro-democracy lawmakers and activists, who could face life imprisonment for taking part in a democratic primary election in 2020 aimed at maximizing the number of opposition seats in the city’s legislature.

A foreign ministry spokesperson in Hong Kong said China “expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition” to criticism of Hong Kong’s judicial system, which is currently engaged in a trial in front of three government-picked judges with no jury under a draconian national security law imposed by Beijing.

“There is no right or freedom that can break through the red line of national security,” the spokesperson said in a statement, calling recent criticisms of the trial a “political performance.”


Focus on Benny Tai

The prosecution on Tuesday concentrated its arguments around former University of Hong Kong law professor and veteran political activist Benny Tai, 57, one of the initiators of the 2014 Occupy Central pro-democracy movement.

Tai’s writings and comments in secretly filmed political meetings at the time were evidence that the democratic primary was a “conspiracy to subvert state power,” the prosecution argued in a trial that is expected to last 90 days.

The secretly filmed footage played in court suggested that one of the pro-democracy activists present had handed over footage to national security police.

Tai’s plan, summarized in his article “10 steps to mutual destruction” printed in the now-shuttered Apple Daily newspaper and posted to Facebook, aimed to gain at least 35 of the 60 seats in the Legislative Council for pro-democracy candidates.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (Special Duties) Anthony Chau argued that democrats had held more than 10 meetings since January 2020 to figure out how to implement the primary, and had agreed to support the five demands of the 2019 protest movement, which included universal suffrage, greater police accountability and an amnesty for all detained protesters.

Tai was handed a 10-month prison term in May 2022 for “illegally” promoting an earlier strategic voting scheme titled “ThunderGo” ahead of the 2016 Legislative Council elections via six paid newspaper ads.

The 47 defendants were arrested en masse in January 2021 by national security police, prompting angry protests, and the majority have been held on remand ever since, with only a handful allowed out on bail.





https://www.lesechos.fr/monde/chine/a-hong-kong-le-plus-grand-proces-de-militants-pro-democratie-1904061 (FRANCAIS)




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China lashes out at criticism of Hong Kong trial of 47 lawmakers and activists