Tony Chung jailed as crackdown on pro-democracy activists in once free-spirited territory accelerates.
Tony Chung, a 19-year-old pro-democracy activist, was sentenced to four months in prison by a Hong Kong court after being found guilty of taking part in an illegal demonstration and of ‘insulting’ the national flag Chinese.
Chung, who founded the now-disbanded Studentlocalism group, was convicted earlier this month for throwing the Chinese flag to the ground during brawls with two members of a pro-Chinese group outside the territory’s legislature. in May 2019.
he is also awaiting trial on a charge of “secession” under a national security law, which was imposed by Beijing on June 30. The charge carries a maximum sentence of life.
Chung was the first public politician to be prosecuted under the new security law, which officials in Beijing and Hong Kong deemed necessary to restore order after mass marches sparked by opposition to a bill Extradition laws have evolved into huge demonstrations of pro-democracy violence.
Chung was sentenced to three months each for insulting the national flag and illegal assembly, and sentenced to four months behind bars.
Magistrate Peony Wong Nga-yan, who heard mitigating letters from eight people including Chung’s family, high school teachers and classmates, and Cardinal Joseph Zen, said Chung’s crimes were of “considerable” seriousness, the South China Morning Post reported.
The phrase “is further evidence of Hong Kong’s continued fall into authoritarianism,” Hong Kong Watch, a UK human rights and rule of law support group in the territory, wrote on Twitter. .
Chung also faces additional charges of money laundering and conspiracy to post seditious material. He has been in detention since the end of October, when he was arrested by plainclothes police in front of the American consulate.
A growing number of pro-democracy activists gone into exile since the introduction of the security law. Activist Nathan Law, who is now in London, was among the first to leave, while Ted Hui, a former lawmaker from the pro-democracy camp announced he left the territory earlier this month.
Chinese state broadcaster CGTN last Sunday reported that Hong Kong police put 30 people who are not currently in Hong Kong on their wanted list for suspected national security law violations. , including Hui.
Security legislation, which has been criticized by countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, punishes what Beijing broadly defines as secession, sedition, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces that may go up to life imprisonment.
Leading activists who remain in Hong Kong have been jailed – like Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow – or face frequent arrests and multiple charges.
Jimmy Lai, a 73-year-old pro-democracy media mogul who has also been charged under the National Security Act, has been granted a deposit awaiting trial by the Hong Kong High Court last week, but he is currently under house arrest and banned from giving interviews, speaking to foreign officials or posting comments on social media.
The court ruling drew serious criticism from China, which threatened to extradite Lai to the mainland for trial.