Sat, 08 May 2021

HONG KONG: As part of China's campaign to curtail freedoms in Hong Kong, leaders in the protests against China have been sentenced to jail terms.

Hong Kong publisher Jimmy Lai was earlier found guilty of involvement in 2019 anti-government protests. He was sentenced to 14 months in jail this week for what the government called unauthorized assembly during widespread anti-government protests.

Also, Democratic Party founding chair Martin Lee Chu-ming was sentenced to jail, though the sentence was suspended.

Also sentenced to jail were former Hong Kong legislators Leung Kwok-hung (18 months), Cyd Ho (8 months), AuNok-hin (10 months), Margaret Ng (12 months), Leung Yiu-chung (8 months) and Albert Ho (12 months) due to their participation in the protests.

However, some of the sentences handed down on Friday were suspended.

On August 18, 2019, some 2 million residents of Hong Kong marched in protest of Beijing's take over of the island government.

Two weeks later, a gathering brought together thousands of residents, and clashes between police and protesters broke out.

Protests began in 2019 following the adoption of a law allowing for residents of Hong Kong to be extradited to China. The protests continued for months.

Chinese officials and judges have accused those arrested of having a "premeditated plan" to defy the police at rallies.

"[The case] involved a direct challenge to the police, as all defendants were well-known, which would guarantee to draw crowds and followers," said a judge during sentencing, according to the Hong Kong Free Press. "They made a conscious decision to break the law during a volatile time."

In commenting on the jailing of protest leaders, Yamini Mishra of Amnesty International said, "Having arrested the majority of Hong Kong's most prominent dissidents using the repressive national security law, the authorities are now mopping up remaining peaceful critics under the pretext of bogus charges related to the 2019 protests."

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