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HK Pro Democracy trial the details

Some of them had prior political experience and were seasoned protestors. Academics, unionists, and healthcare professionals made up the rest. Their united dedication to Hong Kong’s democratic future, according to them, brought them together despite their generational differences and diversity of political opinions.

The gang of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, now known as the “Hong Kong 47,” will begin appearing in court on Monday and could face life in jail if convicted of the allegations against them.

The first witnesses are expected to be the 16 defendants who have pleaded not guilty to the allegations brought against them.

Their claimed offense was? organizing and taking part in a secret primary that judges have described as a “large and well-organized plan to overthrow the Hong Kong government.”

Since Beijing imposed the extensive regulations on the city in response to significant anti-government protests in 2019, this is Hong Kong’s largest national security law trial. Acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collaboration with foreign forces are all illegal and subject to life in jail under the law.

The historic trial, which will be the first to involve subversion accusations, is anticipated to endure for weeks, but its repercussions might last for years or even decades in a city that opponents claim is quickly losing its political liberties and autonomy.

The democrats’ trial, according to John Burns, an emeritus professor at the University of Hong Kong, is a “test of will” to see how willing Beijing is to put an end to organized opposition in Hong Kong.

According to Burns, the goal of the democrats’ detention and accusations was to scare and silence the opposition by either forcing them into exile outside of Hong Kong or imprisoning them.

“It’s a procedure to get rid of them. By closing down political parties and labor organizations, they are closing down the foundation for organized opposition, according to Burns.

Such charges have consistently been refuted by the Hong Kong government. It asserts that the law has put an end to the mayhem and brought stability back to the city. “Hong Kong takes pride in its strong legal system, and law enforcement officials have a responsibility to prosecute suspects who commit crimes regardless of their political affiliation.

The administration responded to the criticism with a statement that read, “Arrests are strictly made in compliance with applicable rules and regulations and are based on evidence.

What you need to know about the situation is as follows:

What is the case against them?

Due to their alleged involvement in an unauthorized primary election in July 2020, 47 pro-democracy figures have been charged with “conspiracy to conduct subversion” under the national security statute.

Prior to a legislative election, a vote was held to determine which candidates would be best positioned to run against those who supported Beijing.

These contests, which involve political parties choosing the most capable candidates for an election, are held in democracies all over the world. To match the organization and discipline of the opposing pro-Beijing camp and prevent splintering the opposition, Hong Kong’s democratic party had previously held such ballots.

However, according to authorities, the primary election was a “vicious scheme” to obtain a majority of seats and use that mandate to obstruct legislation, “paralyzing the administration and undermining state power.”

The “so-called” primaries, according to the government’s Electoral Affairs Commission, “were not part of the electoral procedures of the Legislative Council Election or other public elections.” The 47 Democrats were apprehended in bulk in a dawn operation in January 2021.

Since then, several have either been imprisoned for additional protest-related offenses or have been remanded in imprisonment. A total of fifteen people have received bail, but two of them broke their release terms in 2017 and were taken into custody, according to the police.

Under Hong Kong’s common law system, it is incredibly uncommon for defendants to be denied bail. But according to the national security law, defendants cannot be released on bail unless the court is confident they won’t “continue to commit acts threatening national security.”

In cases involving crimes “endangering national security,” a bail application has been “processed properly and adjudicated impartially by the court having regard to available evidence, applicable laws, and the merits of the case,” according to a Department of Justice spokesman who talked to CNN.

Contrary to common law custom, the cases will be considered without a jury. A High Court panel of three judges who have been given national security legislation designations is hearing the subversion trial.

The Hong Kong 47: Who are they?

The defendants are a diverse group of political activists that identify as everything from conservative localists to radical localists, a movement that favors Hong Kong’s independence from the People’s Republic of China.

Former journalist Gwyneth Ho, 32, of the long-gone Stand News, which was shut down following a police raid in 2021 and two editors were accused of sedition, is one of the 16 who have entered a not guilty plea.

Ho recorded the incident in which attackers randomly attacked passengers at a train station in July 2019 with sticks and metal bars, many of whom were returning from a pro-democracy march. Ho’s video of the incident garnered attention on a global scale and prompted an investigation regarding the absence of police officers.

The assault left Ho with injuries. Later, she quit her job as a journalist to run in the elections for the 2020 Legislative Council. Lam Cheuk-ting, 45, frequently participated in street demonstrations that occasionally turned into altercations with law enforcement. He was frequently observed pleading with officers to put down their tear gas canisters.

For revealing the identities of people involved in a police investigation into the Yuen Long mob attack, he was given a four-month prison sentence in January 2020.

On the other hand, a number of well-known campaigners have admitted guilt and are awaiting sentencing. They are either now incarcerated for various protest-related offenses or have been placed in pre-trial detention.

Benny Tai, a former law professor and co-founder of the 2014 Occupy Central movement, and prominent activist Joshua Wong, both 26, who was dubbed “extremists” by China’s official media, are two of them. Former journalist-turned-legislator Claudia Mo, 66, who had previously been a vocal opponent of Beijing’s expanding control over Hong Kong, has also entered a guilty plea.

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