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Veteran Hong Kong Activists On Trial Over Enormous Democracy Rally

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Hong Kong veteran activists Martin Lee and Albert Ho arrive on the West Kowloon Magistrates Courtroom.

Hong Kong, China:

Veteran Hong Kong activists went on trial Tuesday for organising one of many greatest democracy protests to engulf the town in 2019, a part of a sweeping crackdown focusing on Beijing’s critics.

The 9 defendants embrace a number of the metropolis’s most distinguished pro-democracy campaigners, lots of whom are staunch non-violence advocates who’ve spent a long time campaigning in useless for common suffrage.

Amongst them are Martin Lee, an 82-year-old barrister who was as soon as chosen by Beijing to assist write Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, and Margaret Ng, a 73-year-old barrister and former opposition lawmaker.

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai, presently in custody after his arrest beneath Beijing’s new nationwide safety legislation, can be amongst these on trial.

Others are main members of the Civil Human Rights Entrance (CHRF), the coalition that organised a sequence of giant rallies all through 2019.

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They every resist 5 years in jail if convicted.

As they entered courtroom on Tuesday, a number of the activists flashed a three-finger salute, an emblem now used throughout Asia to protest authoritarianism.

The group is being prosecuted for organising an unauthorised meeting on August 18, 2019 — one of many greatest in Hong Kong that 12 months as individuals took to the streets for seven straight months calling for democracy and higher police accountability.

Organisers estimated 1.7 million individuals turned out — nearly one in 4 Hong Kong residents — although that quantity was troublesome to independently confirm.

These concerned described it because the second-largest protest of 2019, with demonstrators marching peacefully for hours beneath a sea of umbrellas and thundery skies.

“Meeting not against the law”

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Firstly of Tuesday’s trial — which is anticipated to final 10 days — all besides two defendants pleaded not responsible to the costs.

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Veteran dissident Leung Kwok-hung, who has beforehand been jailed for his activism, shouted “Meeting will not be against the law, oppose political prosecution” as he pleaded not responsible.

Former CHRF convenor Au Nok-hin pleaded responsible to 2 fees of organising and collaborating in an illegal meeting whereas former lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung pleaded responsible to collaborating within the march however not responsible to organising it.

Protests in Hong Kong can solely go forward with the permission of authorities and rights teams have lengthy criticised the usage of unauthorised meeting prosecutions.

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Of their opening assertion, prosecutors accused the group of defying police directions that day and inspiring crowds to march throughout Hong Kong’s principal island, bringing site visitors disruption.

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Since 2019, protests have been all however outlawed with authorities both refusing permission on safety grounds or later due to the pandemic.

The rallies in 2019 usually descended into clashes between riot police and a knot of hardcore members, and posed probably the most concerted problem to China’s rule because the former British colony’s 1997 handover.

The motion ultimately fizzled out beneath the mixed weight of exhaustion, some 10,000 arrests and the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic.

Authorities have since unleashed a broad crackdown and Beijing has imposed a brand new safety legislation which criminalises a lot dissent.

China and Hong Kong’s leaders say the legislation is required to revive stability to the finance hub.

Critics counter that Beijing has shredded the liberties and autonomy it promised Hong Kong may preserve after the handover.

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