Hong Kong Speech Therapists Jailed Over Kids’s Books Dominated Seditious

HONG KONG—A bunch of speech therapists had been sentenced to 19 months in jail after being convicted of sedition for publishing youngsters’s books {that a} choose dominated depicted the Chinese language authorities as evil wolves and Hong Kong individuals as sheep.

The sentencing Saturday marks the newest blow to freedom of speech within the metropolis underneath a nationwide safety crackdown that adopted mass antigovernment protests in 2019. Authorities have moved to eradicate dissent within the Chinese language metropolis, closing newspapers and locking up activists and pro-democracy politicians. Greater than 200 individuals have been arrested.

That is the primary time because the crackdown started greater than two years in the past that jail sentences have been imposed on people for publishing books.

The 5 had been prosecuted underneath a British colonial-era sedition legislation that the town’s national-security police are more and more utilizing to make arrests. Ten individuals have been discovered responsible of endangering nationwide safety by committing sedition, with penalties starting from being dedicated to a rehabilitation heart to 40 months in jail. Greater than a dozen individuals charged with sedition are awaiting trial or sentencing, together with the founding father of the pro-democracy Apple Each day newspaper,

Jimmy Lai,

who has denied the cost.

The 5 speech therapists—Lai Man-ling, Melody Yeung Yat-yee, Sidney Ng Hau-yi, Samuel Chan Yuen-sam and Fong Tsz Ho—had been charged with conspiring to print, publish, distribute, show or reproduce seditious publications, on this case three youngsters’s image books a few flock of sheep defending their village from invading wolves. They pleaded not responsible.

They had been tried in July earlier than District Courtroom Decide Kwok Wai-kin, one in all a number of judges picked by the town’s high official to deal with national-security instances, and had been discovered responsible Wednesday.

All 5 therapists spent greater than a 12 months in pretrial detention and must be eligible for launch quickly.

The defendants arriving at courtroom for sentencing on Saturday.


Jerome favre/Shutterstock

Not one of the defendants opted to present proof or name witnesses. Protection legal professionals argued that the books had been merely youngsters’s tales or fables, and that the cost was unconstitutional—that’s, inconsistent with the liberty of expression and of speech assured by the town’s Fundamental Regulation.

In his 67-page verdict, Decide Kwok stated he concluded that the books depicted the wolves as evil and the sheep as variety. He stated they wouldn’t have been thought-about seditious if not for particular references within the first e-book’s foreword to the 2019 protests, months of unrest throughout the town that started in opposition to an extradition invoice.

The books would lead youngsters to imagine that the federal government of the Folks’s Republic of China is made up of wolves and that Hong Kong’s chief is a wolf “masqueraded as a sheep on the path of the Wolf-chairman,” the choose wrote in his verdict.

“The kids shall be led into perception that the PRC Authorities is coming to Hong Kong with the depraved intention of taking away their house and ruining their glad life with no proper to take action in any respect,” he wrote.

Amnesty Worldwide spokeswoman

Gwen Lee

referred to as the decision “an absurd instance of the disintegration of human rights within the metropolis.” The human-rights group referred to as for the speech therapists’ launch and urged the federal government to abolish its “archaic” sedition legal guidelines.

Write to Selina Cheng at selina.cheng@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications
The speech therapists sentenced to jail had been from Hong Kong. An earlier model of this text incorrectly referred to Hong Kong as Kong Kong in a headline. (Corrected on Sept. 10)

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