#AceNewsReport – Feb.28: According to the police, 39 men and eight women aged between 23 and 64 were charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion.” They will appear at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Monday.Benny Tai, one of the organisers of the primaries, meeting the press before reporting to the police on Sunday.
Hong Kong police have charged 47 pro-democracy activists under the national security law on Sunday over their organisation and participation in a primary election for the now-postponed Legislative Council election.
by CANDICE CHAU 19:27, 28 FEBRUARY 2021:
Photo: Kenny Huang/Studio Incendo.
Primaries organiser Benny Tai, former lawmakers Claudia Mo, Jeremy Tam, Helena Wong and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, district councillors Jimmy Sham, Tiffany Yuen, Clarisse Yeung and Fergus Leung were among those 47 charged.
Among the 55 people arrested back in January, only eight people have not been charged, including US citizen and lawyer John Clancey, former lawmakers Roy Kwong, James To and Joseph Lee, activists Jeffrey Andrews, Lee Chi-yung, Ricky Yuen and Lau Hoi-man.
According to Clancey, the eight will have to report to the police again on May 4. The 47 charged also include self-exiled former lawmaker Ted Hui and activist Sunny Cheung.
“Just like a lawyer friend of mine said: Hong Kong is more and more like a large detention centre,” said Clancey outside the police station. “There is less freedom, may it be education, or newspapers, or many other things, the freedom and rights are being tightened.”
The democrats were detained at police stations on Sunday after they were told to report to the police five weeks prior to their original report date of April 8.
In January, 55 pro-democracy activists were arrested for allegedly attempting to paralyse the government by trying to win a majority with strategic voting at the Legislative Council with their “35+” plan.Photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.
Under the plan, they would make use of their majority at the legislature to veto important government bills, and eventually oust the chief executive within the parameters of the Basic Law.
If the democrats are convicted, they could face up to life imprisonment under the national security law, which was imposed by Beijing on June 30 last year. It is also more difficult for those accused of violating the law to be granted bail.
‘Historical mission completed’
Ahead of the democrats’ report to the police on Sunday, Power for Democracy, one of the organisers of the primary elections, announced on Saturday that they will immediately cease operations and disband.
Convenor Andrew Chiu said in a Facebook post that Power for Democracy’s work in coordination “has completed its historical mission,” and they will continue to serve Hong Kong society in the future while abiding by the law.
“In the future, we will definitely continue to serve Hong Kong society through different means under the Basic Law, National Security Law, and the framework of One Country, Two Systems, and abide by the law, and maintain Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity,” said Chiu in the post.
Chiu was also charged with conspiring to commit subversion on Sunday.
Hong Kong charges 47 activists in largest use yet of new security law
1 hour ago
Police in Hong Kong have charged 47 activists with “subversion”, in the largest use yet of the territory’s controversial security law.
The 47, among a group of 55 arrested in dawn raids last month, were told to report to police stations for detention ahead of court appearances on Monday.
Beijing enforced the law criminalising “subversive” acts last year, saying it was needed to bring stability.
Critics say it has silenced dissent and stripped Hong Kong of its autonomy.
The law came into force after a series of mass pro-democracy protests in 2019, some of which turned violent.
Who has been charged?
Those ordered to report to the police are pro-democracy activists who had helped run an unofficial “primary” election last June to pick opposition candidates for 2020 legislative elections, which were then postponed.
Chinese and Hong Kong officials say the primary was an attempt to overthrow the government.
Hong Kong police said in a statement: “Police this afternoon laid a charge against 47 persons… with one count of ‘conspiracy to commit subversion’.”
The 39 men and eight women, aged between 23 and 64, are scheduled to appear before West Kowloon Magistracy on Monday.
ReutersPro-democracy activist Sam Cheung hugs his wife before reporting to a police station
They are some of the territory’s best-known democracy campaigners.
They include veterans such as Benny Tai, James To and Leung Kwok-hung, and younger protesters like Gwyneth Ho, Sam Cheung and Lester Shum.
Jimmy Sham, 33, a key organiser of the 2019 protests, remained defiant as he went to the police station.
“Democracy is never a gift from heaven. It must be earned by many with strong will,” he said. “We will remain strong and fight for what we want.”
Before turning herself in, Gwyneth Ho posted: “I hope everyone can find their road to peace of mind and then press forward with indomitable will.”
Sam Cheung said: “I hope everyone won’t give up on Hong Kong… fight on.”
The charges carry a maximum term of life imprisonment. Bail is unlikely. Benny Tai said his chances were “not too great”.
About 100 people have so far been arrested under the security law, including prominent China critic and media tycoon Jimmy Lai, who was denied bail and is in detention awaiting trial..
No trials have yet begun in full. The first is expected to be that of Tong Ying-kit, who is accused of riding a motorcycle into police officers last July. He appeared in court in November to enter a not guilty plea. He is expected to be tried by three judges rather than a jury.
Amnesty International said the January raids that detained the 55 were “the starkest demonstration yet of how the national security law has been weaponised to punish anyone who dares to challenge the establishment”.
What is in the National Security Law?
A former British colony, Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 but under the “one country, two systems” principle.
It was supposed to guarantee certain freedoms for the territory – including freedom of assembly and speech, an independent judiciary and some democratic rights – which mainland China does not have.Hong Kong security law: The BBC’s Stephen McDonell explains what it means, and what people there think
But the National Security Law has reduced Hong Kong’s autonomy and made it easier to punish demonstrators.
The legislation introduced new crimes, including penalties of up to life in prison. Anyone found to have conspired with foreigners to provoke “hatred” of the Chinese government or the Hong Kong authorities may have committed a crime.
Trials can be held in secret and without a jury, and cases can be taken over by the mainland authorities. Mainland security personnel can legally operate in Hong Kong with impunity.
After the law was introduced, a number of pro-democracy groups disbanded out of fears for their safety.
#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Feb.28: 2021:
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