Forty-seven Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were charged by police with “conspiracy to subvert state power” for their participation in last year’s Legislative Council primary election, alleging that they conspired to use the method of obtaining a majority of seats and controlling the Legislative Council to coerce the government to change its policies. The case will be heard on Monday (March 1). A large number of people responded to the appeal, wearing black clothes to show solidarity outside the court, and once again chanted the long-awaited protest slogans. The defense lawyer described the day as one that will go down in history.
“Restoration of Hong Kong! Revolution of the Times!” This eight-word slogan resounded again in Hong Kong on this day.
A large number of Hong Kong people, responding to the call for a “National Black Clothes Day”, put on black clothes and went to the West Kowloon Magistracy to show their solidarity with the 47 pro-democracy activists charged with “conspiracy to subvert state power”. The long queue stretched on and on, with some people queuing overnight. Even though they might not be able to enter the courtroom to observe the proceedings, they were unwilling to leave.
The solidarity activists said, “They sacrificed and gave their future for Hong Kong, maybe this is a chance to say goodbye, to say goodbye, to cherish every Time to see them, so they will come even so early.”
Solidarity person said: “sitting inside feeling not at all comfortable, also hope that Mr. Lai Chi-ying cheer! All District Council members and Legislative Council members cheer together! What we can do is to physically support ourselves.”
Diplomats from many countries sit in on the British representative: the case shows that Chinese and Hong Kong officials undermine the commitment
Representatives of many countries, including the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and Australia, were present to observe the hearing. Jonathan Williams, a representative of the British Consulate General in Hong Kong, criticized the case as showing that the Hong Kong National Security Law is not being used in a very limited way, as promised by Chinese and Hong Kong officials.
We are here because this is the latest case in which authorities have brought multiple charges under the Hong Kong National Security Law and 47 people were charged today,” said Williams. Chinese and Hong Kong officials had promised that the Hong Kong National Security Law, would only be used in a very limited way, and that is clearly not the case now, which is of deep concern to us.”
Charles Whiteley, deputy head of the EU office in Hong Kong, who was also present, expressed concern about the case and the representative in Hong Kong will keep an eye on it.
The defendant complained about the lack of access to lawyers
The case was handled by Judge So Wai-tak, the president of the National Security Law Designated Judge. The 47 defendants are charged with one count of “conspiracy to subvert state power,” alleging that they conspired together in Hong Kong between July 1, 2020, and January 7, 2021, with the intent to subvert state power by organizing, planning, committing or participating in the commission of acts by threatening to use force or other means to seriously interfere with, obstruct or disrupt the performance of the functions of the Hong Kong government. The court found that the defendants were not in the same position as the government.
Due to the large number of defendants, the trial was chaotic at one point. One of the defendants, former journalist Ho Kwai Lan, shouted in court, “I haven’t seen my lawyer before the trial! I demand to see a lawyer!” The judge adjourned the trial to the afternoon because many of the defendants did not see their lawyers.
The prosecution said the police have not completed their investigation and asked to postpone the trial until the end of May
After the afternoon session, the prosecution said that the police have 400 digital forensics, money flow and forensic procedures to deal with and investigate, requesting that the trial be postponed until May 30, and opposed the bail applications of 47 people.
Defense attorneys argued that the three-month postponement was too long, and that some of the defendants were not young and many had public jobs, arguing that the request to deny bail and postpone the trial was unreasonable and unfair to the defendants.
Senior barrister Leung Ka-kit, representing Tam Man-ho, Kwok Ka-ki, Yeung Ngok-kiu and Lee Yu-sun, criticized the prosecution for using the court’s decision as a tool to detain 47 people. He said that in Hong Kong criminal cases, the police must collect sufficient evidence before prosecution, blasting if the prosecution has not completed the investigation, there is not enough evidence, how to make the prosecution.
The defense barrister: Hong Kong 2.28 will be written into history
He spoke loudly in court: “Hong Kong 2.28 will be written into history, not because of the large number of defendants, but Hong Kong’s fair elections and the legal system has been impacted, the victims are not only 47 people, but the entire Hong Kong justice and the spirit of the rule of law.”
And outside the courtroom, people continued to shout slogans, police once raised blue and purple flags, warning people shouting slogans, the intention of secession.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted a condemnation of the detention and prosecution of Hong Kong’s pan-democratic candidates, demanding the immediate release of those involved. He says freedom of political participation and expression should not be a crime and that the United States stands with the people of Hong Kong. (The U.S. Stands with the people of Hong Kong).
British Foreign Secretary Raab also posted an online article, concerned about the prosecution of 47 democrats, and he criticized the use of the Hong Kong National Security Law to eliminate dissidents, which runs counter to the Chinese government’s commitment.