July 24, 2024

A jailed Hong Kong lawyer defies Beijing’s drive to subjugate the city

A jailed Hong Kong lawyer defies Beijing’s drive to subjugate the city

In an act that underscored Chow’s stature, Chinese authorities singled her out in a public statement the working day she was arrested. The actions of Chow and other individuals had uncovered “the political character of their anti-China chaos as properly as their arrogance to problem Hong Kong’s national stability regulation,” reported China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Workplace, 1 of Beijing’s best plan-building bodies on Hong Kong.

The place of work of Hong Kong’s main executive, John Lee, mentioned in a assertion that it could not comment on ongoing instances. But it extra that “any regulation enforcement actions taken by the regulation enforcement businesses are dependent on evidence” and are “strictly in accordance with the legislation.” All defendants, the office environment reported, had the appropriate to “a fair trial,” and cases would “never be managed any otherwise owing to the career, political beliefs or history of the persons associated.”

The Hong Kong Judiciary mentioned in a assertion that judges’ “constitutional obligation is to exercise their judicial electrical power independently,” and this included “national safety circumstances or any other scenarios arising from or involving political controversies.” This hadn’t altered with the imposition of the Nationwide Safety Regulation, it claimed.

China’s Point out Council Facts Workplace and Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office environment did not respond to questions from Reuters.

Chow is previously serving two sentences – just one 12 months and the other 15 months – for unauthorized assembly related to her involvement in organizing Tiananmen commemoration situations. This relates to her perform for a now dissolved group, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, that opposed one particular-bash rule and campaigned for democracy in China. Each and every calendar year until finally 2019, the team, frequently referred to as the Hong Kong Alliance, arranged the June 4 candlelight vigil in Hong Kong, attended by tens of countless numbers, to commemorate the victims of the Tiananmen Sq. massacre. Considering that 2020, the authorities has banned the accumulating, citing Covid restrictions.

The demand of subverting condition energy is a lot graver. The demand sheet alleges that Chow and two other Alliance activists, veteran rights attorney Albert Ho and political and labor activist Lee Cheuk-yan, “incited other persons to arrange, prepare, dedicate or take part in acts by unlawful implies with a watch to subverting the State electricity, namely overthrowing or undermining the basic system of the People’s Republic of China.”

Chow has pleaded not responsible to the costs versus her. So have Ho and Lee.

“I have finished very little erroneous and do not regard myself as a criminal,” she explained to Reuters. “And it is not just about myself, but about the hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers who have carried out the identical issues, shouted the similar slogans, pursued the similar ideals. None of them are, or ought to be taken care of as a felony.”

This account of Chow’s story is primarily based on much more than a dozen interviews with legal professionals, labor activists, men and women who knew her in Cambridge, good friends and activists in Hong Kong and mainland China, her fiance, and Chow herself.

She scored an unexpected victory in August, when a Hong Kong decide lifted a media reporting ban on her scenario immediately after she challenged the restriction. It was the very first time reporting was permitted on pre-demo hearings for a nationwide security case in Hong Kong.

The acquire may be fleeting. Chow’s case is element of a widening crackdown by Beijing on the lawful fraternity in Hong Kong, in distinct on legal professionals at the forefront of the campaign for democracy and protection of the rule of legislation. She is a single of at least eight legal professionals arrested considering the fact that Beijing imposed the Countrywide Security Legislation in June 2020. Most are veteran pro-democracy campaigners, which includes Martin Lee and Margaret Ng.

Authorized thinkers have also been specific. Condition-managed media outlets in the metropolis have attacked Hong Kong College regulation college head Fu Hualing and previous legislation university dean Johannes Chan, who is now educating in the United Kingdom. In a February report, the Wen Wei Po newspaper named the two males in criticizing “professors and scholars” whose analysis “may incite college students to be anti-China, anti-communism, and anti-federal government.”

The authorities have taken steps against legal non-gains and experienced bodies. The China Human Legal rights Legal professionals Issue Team, established in Hong Kong to aid human rights defenders on the mainland, voluntarily shut down late last calendar year right after obtaining a law enforcement letter requesting information on the team. The Legislation Culture, one of Hong Kong’s primary qualified bodies for attorneys, was warned very last 12 months by Carrie Lam, the city’s previous chief, to continue to keep out of politics.

“The protection of human legal rights by liberal-minded legal professionals, the insistence that the federal government will have to regard the rights of their shoppers, is a little something that has now become an activity that is observed as politically subversive in Hong Kong,” explained Eva Pils, a regulation professor at King’s College London, who focuses on human legal rights and the law in China.

In silencing Hong Kong’s professional-democracy lawyers, Beijing is utilizing a playbook honed on the mainland. The vaguely worded demand of subversion in Hong Kong is a modern addition to the city’s statute books. On the mainland, the capture-all charge has been made use of for many years to criminalize pretty much any carry out that the authorities deem a menace to the party’s absolute keep on electrical power, in accordance to some Chinese lawyers. Beijing is now applying this and other new security offenses in its crackdown in the previous British colony, as properly as methods with parallels on the mainland this kind of as detention with no bail although alleged countrywide security offenses are underneath investigation.

In its statement, the Hong Kong Main Executive’s Office said that “bail application in scenarios concerning offenses endangering nationwide safety has been handled relatively and adjudicated impartially by the court.”