five authors of children’s books convicted of “sedition”

five authors of children’s books convicted of “sedition”

five authors of children’s books convicted of “sedition”

Hong Kong Panorama, July 16, 2020.

In Hong Kong, repression continues to weigh on representatives of the pro-democratic camp and freedom of expression. The president of the journalists’ union was arrested on Wednesday 7 September and five authors of books explaining the democratic movement to children were convicted of “sedition”.

Ronson Chan, president of the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association, was arrested for obstructing law enforcement and disturbing public order, Agence France-Presse learned from a police source, confirming information published by local media . Police confirmed that a 41-year-old man named Chan was arrested after he refused to show his ID card to officers and behaved in a manner “uncooperative” despite multiple warnings.

Read also: Article reserved for our members Hong Kong, twenty-five years after the handover to China: from the rule of law to the state of fear

Channel C, the online news agency that Mr. Chan works for, said the reporter was taken away by police officers while reporting on a meeting of public housing owners. Mr. Chan is expected to leave Hong Kong in late September after winning a scholarship to attend a six-month Reuters Institute program at the University of Oxford.

Comme beaucoup de groupes de la société civile et de syndicats prodémocrates aujourd’hui fermés, Ronson Chan et l’Association des journalistes de Hongkong ont fait l’objet de nombreuses critiques de la part des médias qui dépendent du bureau de liaison de Pékin dans la city. Often, police interventions follow such recriminations.

Read also: Article reserved for our members “It took only two years to transform Hong Kong into a post-totalitarian system”

Extensive campaign of repression of dissent

After one hundred and fifty-six years of British colonization (1841-1997), followed by another twenty-five under Chinese sovereignty, Hong Kong has lost – in less than three years – most of the characteristics of its identity. Despite an unsuccessful democratization process, Hong Kong was until recently the only part of the Chinese territory that enjoyed a solid rule of law, based on independent justice rendered by local and foreign judges, political opposition, great freedom. of worship, a free press, unregulated access to the Internet, world-class universities and open borders.

These attributes are expected to last at least until 2047. During the United Kingdom’s relegation process of Hong Kong to China, which ended in 1997, Beijing undertook to apply the principle “One country, two systems” for fifty years. However, when the region entered, the 1uh July 2022, in the second half of this period, it is clear that Hong Kong is undergoing a transformation. The authorities are now waging a vast campaign to crack down on dissent, following the immense, and sometimes violent, pro-democracy demonstrations of 2019.

Read also: Article reserved for our members Xi Jinping ready for a third term in China

Fall in the ranking of freedom of the press

Victims of this coercion, the newspaper Apple Newspaper and the online information platform StandNews – which Mr. Chan worked for – both shut down last year after many of their executives were accused of violating national security law. In 2021, Hong Kong lost sixty-eight places in the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) press freedom ranking published in May 2022, reaching 148th place in the world. When RSF released its first report in 2002, Hong Kong ranked 18th.

Read also: Article reserved for our members Within a year, the national security law has gagged Hong Kong, once one of the freest cities in the world

This year the Hong Kong Foreign Press Club even renounced the prestigious Asia Human Rights Press Prize, citing the security law; his decision sparked controversy among many member journalists. Additionally, the city’s public radio, RTHK, increasingly resembles Chinese state media after being overhauled by order of the government.

“Seditious intent does not come only from words”

In this context of heightened repression, a Hong Kong court found guilty of sedition on Wednesday 7 September for producing four electronic picture books intended to explain Hong Kong’s democratic movement to children. In the book Defenders of the sheep village, a group of wolves tries to occupy a village of sheep, which they defend themselves. In another, wolves are depicted as being dirty and bringing disease to the sheep village.

All members of a union, the five Hong Kong citizens were found guilty of “conspiring to print, publish, sell, offer for sale, distribute, display or reproduce a seditious publication”. Lai Man-ling, Melody Yeung, Sidney Ng, Samuel Chan and Fong Tsz-ho, all founding members of the speech therapists union behind the books, were held in prison for more than a year before the verdict.

Read also: Article reserved for our members In Hong Kong, the authorities want to re-educate young people in a more patriotic way

After a two-month trial, Kwok Wai-kin, a government-appointed district court judge to try national security cases, wrote in his ruling: “Seditious intent does not come simply from words, but from words with forbidden effects, destined to resonate in the minds of children. “

During the trial, prosecutors argued that the books contained a “Anti-Chinese sentiment” and aimed at “inciting readers to hate the authorities of the continent”. They also said the books were meant to encourage Hong Kongers to discriminate “Mainland Chinese living in Hong Kong”. Finally, the sentence is based on a crime of sedition dating back to the time when the city was under British rule.

The defense argued that the crime of sedition was loosely defined and that every reader should be able to make a decision as to what the characters in the books represented. He also warned that such a verdict would further criminalize political criticism and have a chilling effect on society.

Read also: Article reserved for our members Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his historic visit to Hong Kong, confirms the importance of the “one country, two systems” principle

The world with AFP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.