Friday, May 28, 2021

Multiple travesties of justice within the past 48 hours in Hong Kong

Avery Ng standing up for a free Hong Kong at one of

The last two days has seen Hong Kong register a grand total of zero new Wuhan coronavirus cases. The last time the territory registered consecutive days of zero cases was back on June 11th, 2020.  So people should be feeling really happy about this, even while obviously still not letting down their guard with regards to pandemic prevention.  

Even so, it seems excessive as far as social distancing measures are concerned for the police to confirm that they have banned the June 4th candlelight vigil at Victoria Park for the second year in a row.  Especially when other events involving large crowds (e.g., football matches with thousands of fans in attendance and this year's edition of Art Basel -- Hong Kong which took place indoors) already have been allowed to take place, it smacks of a politically repressive decision akin to the suspension last year of the Legislative Council elections
Speaking of which: on the same day (yesterday) that the Hong Kong police officially banned this year's commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, the remaining members of Hong Kong's now Pan-Democrat-free Legislative Council passed a bill to overhaul the city’s electoral system in a move orchestrated by BeijingIn so doing, they have drastically reduced the possibility of democracy to be enacted, never mind prevail, in Hong Kong and turned a legislative body that already was hard for pro-democrats to have significant say in into a rubber stamp congress along the line of Beijing's. 
And today saw a third development which has been expected for some time but nonetheless has been upsetting when they have come into being: the jailing of eight pro-democracy compaigners who had pleaded guilty on May 17th to having organizing and/or taking part in a mass protest on October 1st, 2019, which had not been authorized by the policeFormer legislative councillors Albert Ho, Lee Cheuk-yan and "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and Civil Human Rights Front convenor Figo Chan were sentenced to 18 months behind bars each; Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai, ex-lawmakers Cyd Ho and Yeung Sum, and former League of Social Democrats chairman Avery Ng were each given 14 month prison sentences; while  former legislator Sin Chung-kai and activist Richard Tsoi received suspended jail terms.  
All of them are unprecedentedly harsh sentences for crimes that, just a few years back, were penalized with mere fines, if that.  What's worse is that a number of these individuals already had been given jail time for other offences and face additional charges which haven't gone to court yet, including security law ones which carry several more years worth of imprisonment if they are found guilty as charged.  For example, Lee Cheuk-yan has been charged with nine different criminal offences while Figo Chan faces more than 10 different charges.  Also, "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung is one of the 47 people accused of subversion under China's security law for Hong Kong for having taken part in last year's democratic primaries while Jimmy Lai has been slapped with more than one security law charge already.     
Also today came another trio of court decisions that actually shocked those of us paying attention even more.  As a result of one of them, a 21-year-old student was found guilty and jailed for four years and three months for rioting in Tuen Mun on September 21st, 2019.  The sentence is harsh -- harsher than that of a pro-Beijinger convicted last year for attacking three people at a pro-democracy Lennon Wall with a meat cleaver --  but what's really eye-opening is the evidence given for his having "rioted": that is, Lee Ho-ming was convicted based on video footage showing him using a hiking pole to hit a water barricade (rather than, say, another human being).
Then there's the alarming revelation today with regards to the bail hearing of Claudia Mo -- one of the 47 people arrested under the security law and remanded into custody back in February but whose trial has yet to get going this month.  Specifically, it has come to light that High Court judge Esther Toh used WhatsApp conversations between Mo -- whose mobile phone was seized back in January -- and members of the foreign press as evidence that former journalist turned politician presented a risk of committing national security offences if freed.
However crazy as it seems, it appears that the bar for committing national security offences is as low as talking to the international press (a number of whose organizations have their Asian headquarters and bureaus here in Hong Kong).  And I really don't know what to say or think about the same High Court judge having denied yet Andrew Wan, yet another member of the 47 arrested for having taken part in democratic primaries, bail because he had called for people to "Say no to totalitarianism" other than... so, we are supposed to say yes to totalitarianism?!                 
Having one of these travesties of justice take place over 24 hours is one thing.  But for all of them to have done so over the course of just 48 hours or so?  Honestly, part of me just wants to (permanently) curl up in a fetal position -- and I have indeed spent more hours in bed combatting depression in the past year than is ideal.  And yet another part of me feels obliged to not completely turn away and around -- and, instead, feel that it is really important to bear witness to this all, and more.         


peppylady (Dora) said...

Last I heard they was 2 new cases of covid and only 21.7% has been fuly vaccinated in my area.
Coffee is on and stay safe

YTSL said...

Hi peppylady --

Two new cases is really low and 21.7% vaccination is higher than Hong Kong's rate. It's not over but hopefully your area is on the right path back to health.