Thursday October 29, 2020
Thousands take to the streets in the spring against Hong Kong’s new security law. They fear interference in the special position of the city. Based on the law, a prominent face of the democracy movement is now on trial for the first time. The US is heavily criticized.
For the first time since the introduction of the controversial Chinese security law, the Hong Kong judiciary has indicted a prominent democracy activist on the basis of it. The competent court accused the 19-year-old Tony Chung of, among other things, intentions to split off. He was arrested on Tuesday in the immediate vicinity of the US consulate in the financial metropolis. The judiciary has also accused Chung of money laundering and conspiracy to post inflammatory content. The court ordered the 19-year-old to be detained until the next hearing on January 7th. If convicted, he faces a life sentence.
US Secretary of State Pompeo strongly condemned the arrest and demanded Chung’s release. Hong Kong “continues to stifle dissent, suppress public expression and use law enforcement for political ends,” he said. He accused the Hong Kong city government of failing to respect human rights such as freedom of assembly and expression. The human rights organization Amnesty International said the charges show that the authorities used the so-called security law to criminalize peaceful political expression. A spokesman for the organization spoke of a politically motivated trial against a peaceful student activist.
Chung was reportedly hoping for asylum in the United States
Chung was a member of the Student Localism group that campaigned for Hong Kong’s independence. It dissolved one day before the so-called security law came into force in June. The activist and three other former members of the group had already been arrested in July by a newly created unit of the national security police. According to official information, they were suspected of having called for Hong Kong to split off from China on Internet platforms. Chung was released on bail at the time – but on the condition that he was not allowed to leave Hong Kong.
According to the organization “Friends of Hong Kong”, Chung wanted to apply for asylum at the US consulate on Tuesday. An independent review of the information was initially not possible. Since June, the authorities in the Special Administrative Region have been able to fall back on the Beijing Security Act for Hong Kong. It allows the authorities to crack down on any activity they believe may threaten China’s national security. Around two dozen people have already been arrested under the new law, including newspaper tycoon and Beijing critic Jimmy Lai. The law represents the most serious encroachment on the autonomous status of Hong Kong to date. When it was handed over to China in 1997, the former British crown colony had been granted special rights for 50 years, including freedom of expression and assembly.