Hong Kong jails 5 for sedition over kids’s books » Capital Information

Hong Kong (AFP), Sep 10 – Hong Kong jailed 5 speech therapists for sedition on Saturday over a collection of illustrated kids’s books that portrayed the town’s democracy supporters as sheep defending their village from wolves.

They be a part of a rising record of residents jailed beneath a colonial-era sedition offence which authorities have deployed alongside a nationwide safety regulation launched by Beijing in 2020 to stamp out dissent.

The group, who’re all of their twenties and belonged to a speech therapists’ union, have been behind bars for over a 12 months whereas awaiting a verdict.

They have been all handed a 19-month jail time period for an image guide collection that started in 2020 to clarify Hong Kong’s democracy motion to kids. The group might be launched in 31 days after deductions for time served, one in every of their legal professionals estimated.

Three of them struck a defiant tone throughout Saturday’s sentencing.

Melody Yeung advised the court docket she didn’t remorse her decisions and hopes to all the time stand on the aspect of the sheep.

Key factors of China’s nationwide safety regulation for Hong Kong, in impact since June 30, 2020. © AFP/File / John SAEKI

“My solely remorse is I couldn’t publish extra image books earlier than getting arrested.”

Defendant Sidney Ng’s lawyer quoted his shopper as saying the prosecution “had the target impact of intimidating civil society and alienating Hong Kongers from each other”.

Choose Kwok Wai-kin scolded the defendents for “brainwashing” kids and sowing the “seed of instability” within the metropolis and throughout China.

The decide, handpicked by Hong Kong’s chief from a pool of jurists to listen to nationwide safety instances, had convicted the group on Wednesday for conspiring to unfold seditious content material.

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– ‘Individuals’s historical past’ –

Prosecutors had argued the books contained “anti-China sentiment” and have been geared toward “inciting readers’ hatred in opposition to the mainland authorities”.

In a single guide, a village of sheep fights off invading wolves, whereas one other portrays the canines as spreading illness within the ovine hamlet.

On Saturday, the decide stated the books have been “a brainwashing train” and there was clear proof of concern, hatred and discontent being instilled in kids’s minds.

“As soon as (the youngsters) had internalised this mindset, the seed of instability might be sowed,” he stated.

A supporter of the pro-democracy unionists waves at a jail van believed to be transporting the group © AFP / Bertha WANG

However the defendants maintained the books chronicled “historical past from the individuals’s perspective” and have been meant to assist kids perceive systemic injustice in society.

“Fairly than being seditious, (the books) have been recording brave acts for a simply trigger,” Ng stated.

Amnesty Worldwide, which just lately exited Hong Kong due to the nationwide safety regulation, described the convictions as “an absurd instance of unrelenting repression”.

Hong Kong was a bastion of free expression inside China and residential to a vibrant and outspoken publishing trade.

However Beijing has unleashed a sweeping political crackdown on the town in response to large and typically violent democracy protests three years in the past.

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The sedition regulation, which carries a most sentence of two years in jail, was dormant for many years however has just lately been embraced by police and prosecutors.

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