A court docket in Hong Kong on Tuesday denied an utility for bail from jailed democracy activists Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam pending their attraction in opposition to their sentence on costs associated to “unlawful meeting” throughout a mass siege of police headquarters on June 21, 2019.
Chow, who regarded thinner and paler than in earlier court docket appearances, wiped away tears in court docket as Excessive Courtroom decide Andrew Chan stated he could be referring the case to the Courtroom of Attraction, successfully denying the applying for bail.
Some supporters shouted out encouragement to Chow, whereas Lam made the five-finger gesture of the 2019 pro-democracy motion representing 5 calls for made by protesters, together with totally democratic elections, an amnesty for jailed protesters, and accountability for police violence.
The listening to was additionally attended by outspoken Cardinal Joseph Zen. Cops cordoned off the realm across the court docket entrance with visitors obstacles, and journalists weren’t allowed to get shut sufficient to take photographs.
Legal professionals for Lam and Chow later stated the pair will each serve out their sentences, with Lam attributable to be launched in April and Chow in June.
Chow, 24, was sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment in Dec. 2 after pleading responsible to costs referring to “unlawful meeting.”
She was taken after sentencing to the medium-security Lo Wu Correctional Establishment close to the border with mainland China, however was later transferred to the Tai Lam Ladies’s Correctional Establishment, a Class A facility.
Class A prisoners, of whom there are just a few hundred in a metropolis of seven million, are sometimes individuals who have been convicted of homicide or drug trafficking.
Fellow activist and former 2014 pupil chief Joshua Wong, who co-founded the now-disbanded political social gathering Demosisto with Chow, can be believed to have been positioned in Class A.
Fellow activists Joshua Wong, 24, and Lam, 26, had been jailed for 13-and-a-half-months and 7 months respectively by the West Kowloon District Courtroom on Dec. 2, 2020.
All three defendants pleaded responsible to costs of “inciting others to participate in an unlawful meeting” and “participating in an unlawful meeting,” and their sentences had been lowered in recognition of the responsible plea.
Oaths of allegiance
In the meantime, the Hong Kong authorities are gearing as much as require sitting members of the District Council to take an oath of allegiance to Hong Kong.
Secretary for mainland and constitutional affairs Eric Tsang stated politicians whose oaths had been deemed “insincere” could be stripped of their seats on the council.
Professional-democracy candidates swept to a landslide victory within the final District Council elections in November 2019, which got here after a number of months of mass protest over Hong Kong’s vanishing freedoms.
“The regulation will fulfill the constitutional duty of the federal government,” Tsang stated.
“You can’t say that you’re patriotic however you don’t love the management of the Chinese language Communist Celebration or you don’t respect it – this doesn’t make sense,” Tsang added. “Patriotism is holistic love.”
The transfer got here a day after a high ruling Chinese language Communist Celebration (CCP) official answerable for Hong Kong stated that solely patriots ought to be allowed to carry public workplace.
Below the draft laws, any district councilor who fails the loyalty check will likely be despatched to court docket for formal disqualification, and banned from participating in elections for 5 years.
Political commentators have warned that the authorities are gearing up for the mass disqualification of opposition politicians from the council, who at the moment maintain almost 90 % of seats.
Tsang stated 4 district councilors — Lester Shum, Tiffany Yuen, Fergus Leung, and Tat Cheng — have already been earmarked for disqualification.
“The returning officers on the time have already concluded that the 4 don’t genuinely uphold the Primary Legislation. So theoretically talking, they received’t be certified to remain on as district councillors,” Tsang informed reporters in feedback reported by authorities broadcaster RTHK.
A latest ballot by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Analysis Institute (PORI) discovered that a number of totally different measures of freedom in Hong Kong had been at their lowest degree for the reason that handover.
Tutorial freedom, freedom of affiliation, and freedom of motion all dropped to their lowest ebb in a survey carried out in early February 2021, whereas press freedom and freedom of speech additionally returned low scores.
HKPORI deputy chief govt Chung Kim-wah stated the liberty of motion determine displays folks’s issues over rising entry and exit controls at Hong Kong’s borders, notably after China stated it could not acknowledge the British Nationwide Abroad (BNO) passport.
“First they had been speaking about countermeasures and non-recognition, after which we had the announcement that the BNO would not be accepted as a journey doc any extra,” Chung informed RFA. “There have been additionally rumors that there could be restrictions on folks making an attempt to go away.”
“Our survey performed originally of this month displays folks’s emotions on the BNO [issue],” he stated.
Following the imposition of the nationwide safety regulation in Hong Kong, the U.Okay. launched an immigration scheme for BNO passport-holders that gives a possible pathway to work, research, and eventual citizenship to round 5 million of Hong Kong’s seven million residents, drawing Beijing’s ire.
Crackdown on dissent, opposition
The CCP imposed the draconian Nationwide Safety Legislation for Hong Kong on the town from July 1, 2020, ushering in a crackdown on peaceable dissent and political opposition.
The regulation was described as “one of many best threats to human rights and the rule of regulation in Hong Kong for the reason that 1997 handover” by authorized specialists at Georgetown College’s Asian Legislation Heart.
The report discovered that the authorities “have made vigorous use of the [law] over the previous seven months, with over 100 arrests by the newly-created nationwide safety division within the Hong Kong police pressure.”
“The overwhelming majority of preliminary … arrests wouldn’t be thought of nationwide safety instances in different liberal constitutional jurisdictions,” the report stated.
It stated there are “critical issues” that the regulation is getting used to suppress the fundamental political rights of Hong Kong residents.
“Prosecution of people for exercising their rights to free expression, affiliation, or meeting … violate Hong Kong and Beijing’s commitments beneath worldwide human rights regulation,” it stated.
Reported by Cheng Yut Yiu for RFA’s Cantonese and Mandarin Companies. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.