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Canada Hong Kong: 47 indicted in the name of the national security law

13:10  28 february  2021
13:10  28 february  2021 Source:   rfi.fr

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The Hong Kong police announced this Sunday, February 28, prosecutions for "subversion" against nearly fifty members of the pro-democracy movement, the largest group indicted on the same day on behalf of of the draconian national security law.

They will appear this Monday, March 1 in the morning before the court. Police said on Sunday that 47 people had been indicted for "conspiracy to commit an act of subversion". This is one of the qualifications targeted by this law, which Beijing imposed on Hong Kong last year in response to months of protests that rocked the city in 2019. The former British colony then went through its worst crisis. policy since its handover in 1997 to China.

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These indictments come a month after a massive crackdown in which 55 people, including some of the best-known figures of the pro-democracy movement, were arrested.

The people indicted this Sunday therefore represent a very broad spectrum of local opposition, with veteran former deputies like James To and Claudia Mo, academics, lawyers, social workers and many younger activists.

The new law tackles four types of crime: subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. These prosecutions, which usually do not result in release on bail until trial, are punishable by life imprisonment.

The other people charged include a group of young Democratic activists known as the "resistance camp", including Lester Shum, Sam Cheung, Ventus Lau and Fergus Leung. Democracy is never a gift from heaven, said Jimmy Sham, LGBT rights activist and one of the main organizers of the 2019 protests. We can tell the world that despite the most gruesome political system, Hong Kong people are the light of this city. We will stay strong and continue to fight for what we want. »

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To read also: Hong Kong: a pro-democracy radio host arrested for sedition

Unofficial primary

The alleged offense which initially motivates this vast series of indictments is the organization of an unofficial primary last summer to choose candidates for the Legislative Council in the hope that the Democratic camp manages to win the majority for the first time. Many successful candidates were subsequently disqualified and authorities postponed the election until September this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Officials in Beijing and Hong Kong have described the primary as an attempt to “overthrow” and “cripple” the city government. In other words, a “threat to national security”.

Among the accused, Benny Tai, a former law professor expelled from the University of Hong Kong for his activism in 2019, co-founder of the central Occupy movement in 2014, is also one of the organizers of this primary. "I have little chance of obtaining bail," he resigned himself earlier on social networks, quoted by Reuters.

Essonne: Six minors indicted after the murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl

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"Tiny minority" targeted, according to Beijing

The Westerners accused Beijing of using these arrests to end the freedoms guaranteed by the principle "one country, two systems" included in the joint Sino-British declaration of 1984 which sealed the retrocession. A principle that Beijing had pledged to respect for half a century after Hong Kong returned to the motherland in 1997.

After the 55 arrests last month, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights reacted strongly. This crackdown confirmed, according to her, that the new law "was used to arrest people in the legitimate exercise of their rights to participate in public political life". This law, defended the government of Beijing, only targets a "tiny minority" and is "necessary" to "restore stability".

Listen: In the News: Beijing is preparing to change Hong Kong's electoral system

National security watchdog says the pandemic is slowing its work .
Physical distancing measures meant to keep Canadians safe during the pandemic have had an unintended consequence for the people keeping tabs on the nation's spies: they can't always access the classified information they need to do their jobs.The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), the watchdog set up to monitor the activities of Canada's national security and intelligence sector, says the pandemic has slowed its work.

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