Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai sentenced over banned Tiananmen vigil

Lai and 7 different democracy campaigners handed jail sentences for commemorating victims of bloodbath

First revealed on Mon 13 Dec 2021 10.08 GMT

The Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai and 7 different pro-democracy activists have been sentenced to as much as 14 months in jail for organising, participating in and inciting participation in a banned vigil final 12 months for victims of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Sq. bloodbath.

The previous British colony, which returned to Chinese language rule in 1997 with the promise of wide-ranging freedoms, historically holds the biggest 4 June vigil on the earth, however police have rejected purposes for the previous two occasions, citing coronavirus restrictions.

Critics mentioned authorities used the pandemic restrictions as an excuse to dam the commemoration. The town authorities rejected that.

The sentencing is the newest blow to town’s democracy motion, which has resulted in dozens of activists being arrested, jailed or fleeing the Chinese language-ruled territory since Beijing imposed a sweeping nationwide safety legislation final 12 months.

The choose, Amanda Woodcock, mentioned the defendants “ignored and belittled a real public well being disaster” and “wrongly and arrogantly believed” in commemorating 4 June slightly than defending the well being of the neighborhood.

Lai, a 74-year-old media tycoon who’s already in jail, the barrister Chow Dangle-tung, 36, and activist Gwyneth Ho, 31, acquired sentences of 13, 12 and 6 months respectively. They had been discovered responsible by the court docket on Thursday.

The three, the best profile of the eight, had pleaded not responsible to all prices.

“If commemorate [sic] those that died due to injustice is a criminal offense, then inflict on me that crime and let me endure the punishment of this crime, so I could share the burden and glory of these younger women and men who shed their blood on June 4th to proclaim fact, justice and goodness,” Lai mentioned in a mitigation letter, handwritten in jail earlier than the sentencing.

In her mitigation, Chow mentioned: “If these in energy had wished to kill the motion with prosecution and imprisonment, they shall be sorely dissatisfied. Certainly what they’ve accomplished is breathe new life into the motion, rallying a brand new technology to this lengthy wrestle for fact, justice and democracy.“

5 others who had pleaded responsible, together with Lee Cheuk-yan, the chief of the now-disbanded vigil organiser Hong Kong Alliance in Help of Patriotic Democratic Actions of China, had been sentenced to between simply over 4 months and 14 months.

“If there was a provocateur, it’s the regime that fired at its personal individuals,” an emotional Lee, who acquired the longest sentence of 14 months, informed the court docket on 17 November. “If I have to go to jail to affirm my will, then so be it.”

All sentences can be served concurrently with any the defendants are already dealing with in different instances.

Sixteen different activists are already serving sentences of 4 to 10 months associated to the 2020 vigil. Two democracy campaigners dealing with comparable prices, Nathan Regulation and Sunny Cheung, have fled Hong Kong.

After mass pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019, the worldwide monetary hub has taken a swift authoritarian flip with Beijing’s imposition of a sweeping nationwide safety legislation final 12 months affecting many points of life within the metropolis.

China has by no means supplied a full account of the 1989 crackdown on protest there that centred on Tiananmen Sq. in Beijing.

The loss of life toll given by officers days later was about 300, most of them troopers, however rights teams and witnesses say 1000’s of protesters could have been killed.

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