Saturday, June 1, 2024

The verdict has been delivered by the national security judges in the trial of the Hong Kong 47 but it ain't over yet by a long chalk!

Mood this week in Hong Kong
It's not yet over but here's stating all the same that it's been one hell of a crap week in Hong Kong.  Never mind the bad weather (which has included typhoon warnings getting issued -- thanks, Typhoon Maliksi!)Though I must say that the gray days and weeping skies have felt reflective of many people's moods.     
The day after the first arrests under Article 23 were made, a seventh individual was apprehended -- also over "seditious posts" by and on a Facebook page known as the ChowHangTung club that appear to be nothing more than "daily posts in memory of the events in Tiananmen Square and the vigils held in Hong Kong until 2019 to remember them"!  ("The initiative", a P.I.M.E. Asia news piece explains, "is linked to Chow’s legal battle. She was arrested for her role in organising commemorations in Victoria Park. For this reason, she has been in prison since September 2021, and is still awaiting trial after almost three years.")
As Freedom House research director Yaqiu Wang observed in a piece in The Diplomat: "The fact that the authorities keep throwing new charges at Chow for the one thing she did – organize commemorations to honor those killed by their government for peacefully demanding freedom and democracy – only speaks to the insecurity that she inspires in her own government and in Beijing."
Something also worth point out -- which Wang does in her piece: "Beijing’s determination to crush Hong Kong’s freedoms and to erase history is illustrated by the multiple, years-long prosecutions against Chow. However, Chow’s courage and resolve in the face of this repression exemplify Hong Kongers’ collective determination to fight back." 
In a development that now passes for a "Thank goodness for small mercies" one, all of those arrestees -- bar for Chow Hang-tung, who was already behind bars at the time of her arrest on this (new) charge -- have been granted bail.  One way in which many of us found this out was by seeing a photo of one of the six, Lee Ying-chi (a dentist by profession), waiting in line to get into court to see and hear on Thursday morning the verdict being given of the Hong Kong 47.  
Sadly, that's what came to pass.  For more than three years and three months after 47 organizers and participants of a pro-democracy primary staged in 2020 were arrested on February 28th, 2021, the three hand-picked national security law judges decided that only two of the individuals concerned were innocent of the conspiracy to commit subversion charges laid on them.   
Still, lest barrister (and ex-cop as well as district councillor) Lawrence Lau and former district councillor (and registered social worker) Lee Yue-shun, who made history by being the first two people tried under the Beijing-imposed national security law to be cleared of their charges think it's all over, "Director of Public Prosecutions Maggie Yang on Thursday afternoon said that she had received instruction from Secretary for Justice Paul Lam that the justice department would seek to appeal the acquittal of Lau and Lee." Of course!  

And with mitigation hearings and appeals by at least some of those found guilty also still to come, this case is set to run through the summer; with sentencing not taking place for some months yet.  During which, the stress and misery for many, if not all, of the people involved will continue.  (Reading the piece of AP's Kanis Leung on the toll of Beijing's national security law on Hong Kong's activists before the verdict was already heartbreaking.) 

More than by the way, Chan Po-ying is the subject of a piece by AFP's Xinqi Su which appears on the Hong Kong Free Press' website today with headlines that emphasize that she's spent decades fighting for democracy with Long Hair -- and has continued to do so after his national security law arrest.  The following is how the piece concludes -- and I think is a good way to conclude this blog post:
Chan said it was important that people keep speaking up.

“What we have been trying to emphasise is that we don’t want society to be voiceless,” she said.

“When there is no other narratives than the one and only official version, I think as a humble citizen and resident, it’s our duty to history that we shall not let others alter our history and memories,” she added.

 (My emphasis.)

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