HONG KONG – A group of Hong Kong protesters arrested by mainland Chinese authorities as they fled the city by speedboat were sentenced to jail in a mainland court on Wednesday, in the latest attack by the Chinese Communist Party against pro-democracy activists who sought to do so. Challenging her judgment.
Eight of the protesters, who were accused of crossing the border illegally, were sentenced to seven months in prison. Two others, Tang Kai Yin, 31, and Quin Moon, 33, accused of the more serious crime of organizing an escape attempt, received three years and two years respectively.
The demonstrators also received fines ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 yuan, or about $ 1,500 to $ 3,000.
Two other defendants, who were juveniles at the time of their arrest, pleaded guilty in a closed session and were not charged afterwards, according to a statement released Wednesday by prosecutors in the mainland city of Shenzhen, where the activists were being held. On Wednesday, Hong Kong police said they would receive an arrest Two of the defendants were not identified from the mainland authorities.
The protesters were the 12 He was arrested in August by the Chinese Coast GuardAbout 45 miles southeast of Hong Kong Island, while trying to flee to Taiwan. Many Hong Kong residents who oppose Beijing have sought asylum in Taiwan in recent months, especially since June, when the central government imposed The harsh new national security law In Hong Kong, many believe it has stifled the city’s precious civil liberties.
One of the captured protesters, Andy Lee, was under investigation under the new law at the time of his escape.
The case of the 12 activists – whom supporters have dubbed “Hong Kong Youth” at home, even though they are between 17 and 33 years old – has come It embodies the fears of many anti-government protesters About the central government’s ongoing advance over Hong Kong, a former British colony that promised relative autonomy for 50 years when it was returned to China in 1997.
Because the detainees were held and tried on the mainland, they were denied access to lawyers chosen by their relatives, according to a group representing family members. They were also not charged with any crime Until this monthMore than three months after they were arrested.
Wednesday’s ruling at the Yantian District People’s Court in Shenzhen revealed the differences between the legal system on the mainland, which is opaque and often used to silence dissidents, and the Hong Kong system that follows common law principles.
None of the defendants’ relatives attended the two-day trial, according to family members in Hong Kong, although the Shenzhen court said in a statement that some relatives attended. Family members were notified of the trial date only three days in advance.
The trial was also not open to observers, despite requests from the family and some foreign diplomats. (Shenzhen officials reportedly said the courtroom was full.)
According to state-controlled Chinese media reports, the 10 protesters pleaded guilty in hopes of receiving a reduced sentence.
In a statement released on Monday, after the trial began, the group of family members said that the court proceedings were “evidence of clear and severe political persecution.”
And the statement continued, “The families of the 12 have suffered severe suffering throughout their detention.” “Now they are only asking for the safety of their children and their earliest return to Hong Kong.”
The case has also been met with condemnation from foreign governments that have criticized China’s crackdown on Hong Kong. A spokesman for the US embassy in China called for the “immediate release” of the activists, adding in a Monday’s statement Their “alleged crime was fleeing tyranny.”
A spokesman for the European Union said that the rights of the accused have a fair trial.Not respected. Dominic Raab, the British Foreign Secretary, He said that He was “very anxious” about the procedures.
In response to the accusations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: He said that The United States must “immediately cease interfering in China’s internal affairs and judicial sovereignty.”
The authorities in Hong Kong are also pursuing protesters. On Tuesday, Tony Chung, a 19-year-old student activist, was sentenced to four months in prison for illegal gathering and insulting the national flag.