Seven senior Hong Kong pro-democracy figures, including lawyer and former legislator Martin Lee and media tycoon Jimmy Lai, have been found guilty over their involvement in an unauthorised protest rally.
The defendants were convicted on Thursday morning at the end of a four-week trial, joining two others who had pled guilty earlier.
The defendants included 82-year-old Lee, considered the father of the democracy movement in Hong Kong, Lai – who is also facing a separate trail over alleged national security offences, former legislators Margaret Ng and Cyd Ho Sau-lan, lawyer Albert Ho Chun-yan, veteran activists Lee Cheuk-yan and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung. Former legislators Au-Nok-him and Leung Yiu-chung had pleaded guilty earlier.
The conviction relates to a rally on 18 August 2019, when an estimated 1.7 million people marched peacefully, but against police orders. Its organisers, the Civil Human Rights Front, had been given permission to hold a rally in Victoria Park, but not a march, which began when crowds spilled on to the streets, taking over major roads to walk to government offices a few kilometres away. In contrast to many protests in 2019 , it remained peaceful.
In April 2020, police arrested 15 people accused of organising the rally and two other protests, drawing international rebuke, including a warning from the UN.
Lee Cheuk-yan is facing three other trials this year on separate but similar charges, for organising unauthorised assemblies including a 2020 vigil for the Tiananmen Square massacre. “I think it’s inevitable I will go to jail,” he told the Guardian in February.
More to come …