Hong Kong authorities charge 47 with subversion under security law

03 Mars, 2021, 08:31 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • People queue up outside a court to try to get in for a hearing in West Kowloon today

Hundreds of democracy supporters gathered outside a Hong Kong courthouse on Monday chanting slogans and flashing protests symbols as some of the city's best-known dissidents were expected to appear in the dock later charged with subversion.

Those arrested allegedly violated the national security law for participating in unofficial election primaries for Hong Kong´s legislature a year ago.

The legislative election that would have followed the unofficial primaries was postponed by a year by Lam, who cited public health risks during the coronavirus pandemic.

They said the group was made up of 39 men and 8 women, aged between 23 and 64, and that they will appear in court on Monday. He told reporters after having his bail extended Sunday that he was asked to report to the police again in early May.

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".

Mass street protests in 2019 against China's intensifying control prompted Beijing to impose a sweeping national security law last June, which authorities have used to jail activists and stifle dissent. Many democracy activists have fled the city since the law was introduced.

Many were dressed in black, the colour associated with the 2019 anti-government protests, while some chanted: "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times", and: "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong".

One sign called upon authorities to release "all political prisoners".

Young Hong Kong democrats from the so-called "resistance" or localists camp including Tiffany Yeun, Fergus Leung, Joshua Wong, Kinda Li, Sunny Cheung, Frankie Fung, Gwyneth Ho, Ventus Lau, Owen Chow, Eddie Chu, Sam Cheung, Prince Wong, Ng Kin Wai, Lester Shum, Henry Wong and Winnie Yu attend a news conference after pre-election in Hong Kong, China July 15, 2020.

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Anyone who fails to take the oath - or is deemed to have done so in an insincere fashion - would be immediately disqualified from office and banned from running in elections for the next five years, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang said.

The Hong Kong police say 99 individuals have been arrested for suspected violations of the security laws so far.

It said: "The nature of these charges makes clear that legitimate political pluralism will no longer be tolerated in Hong Kong".

"The EU urges Hong Kong and Beijing authorities to abide by their commitments to fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, as enshrined in the Basic Law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights".

"This is a very strong signal from President Xi [Jinping] that he wants to eradicate the whole pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong", exiled activist Sunny Cheung, who had himself taken part in the primary election, told Reuters by phone. At the time of the Hong Kong vote, the United States Democratic primary, which Biden won, was still ongoing.

Chinese and Hong Kong officials said this was an attempt to "overthrow" the city's government, and therefore a threat to national security. In Hong Kong, the chief executive has to resign if the budget is rejected by the legislature twice.

The defendants represent a broad cross-section of Hong Kong's opposition, from veteran former pro-democracy lawmakers to academics, lawyers, social workers and youth activists.

Mr Xia did not announce any specifics, but the plan will likely include changes to how the 70-seat Hong Kong legislature is elected, and the composition of a committee that will select Hong Kong's next leader, according to the person briefed on the plan and local media reports.

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