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Asia Minute: Tough Week for Democracy in Hong Kong

AP Photo/Vincent Yu
Pro-democracy lawmaker Martin Lee, right, arrives at a court in Hong Kong Thursday, April 1, 2021.

It’s been a week of dramatic developments in Hong Kong. Seven leading pro-democracy activists have been convicted of unlawful assembly and the United States has again sharply criticized China’s policies there.

Some of the biggest names in Hong Kong’s democracy movement were convicted of crimes this week: unlawful assembly—in a series of demonstrations two years ago.

Defense attorneys said the gatherings were protected as “freedom of assembly” under Hong Kong’s constitution.

Prosecutors said there were limits to freedom of assembly even two years ago. Controlling laws have been tightened since then.

Among those convicted: Jimmy Lai—a media publisher who made his fortune in the clothing business.

His Apple Daily tabloid has been a frequent critic of the Beijing government.

Martin Lee is sometimes called “the father of democracy” in Hong Kong. The 82-year old attorney is the founding chair of the Democratic Party.

He was a member of Hong Kong’s legislature—the Legislative Council--for more than 20 years, both before and after Chinese governance.

Leung Kwok-Hung is better known by his nickname, “Long Hair,” a member of the Legislative Council for more than a decade.

Along with his shoulder-length hair, he’s famous for dramatic protests---like when he wore a Tiananmen Square t-shirt to his swearing-in as a member of the Legislative Council.

Sentencing will come later.

The U.S. State Department also weighed in this week—repeating a certification first made under the Trump Administration that Hong Kong does not deserve special trade privileges because Beijing’s government is infringing on Hong Kong’s autonomy promised under its constitution.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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