April 17, 2021


Leadership in Hong Kong has not taken democracy activists lightly in the past months, and things got taken to a new level on Friday. A court in the area sentenced multiple democracy leaders to jail time between eight and 18 months.

This indictment has not been well received by people calling for democracy in the country. Nevertheless, there have not been many demonstrations because of the punishment risk in China. The Hong Kong court used the pro-democracy activist to illustrate what can happen if you peacefully disobey the government.

The Details of the Charges

These charges were from demonstrations in a 2019 protest by nine pro-democracy activist. They organized a rally that was unauthorized by the Chinese government. This sentence marked that China will not be moving towards democracy.

One of the harshest punishments was given to Jimmy Lai, who has a massive online presence. The Chinese government realized that he was dangerous because of his ability to use the internet to grow his democratic following.

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison. This is the second recent jailing for Lai as he was already locked up for national security charges. Lai was also found guilty of an additional security charge with the maximum punishment of life in prison.

Lai will have to appear in court to receive this punishment at a later date. Four older pro-democracy leaders were given reduced sentences. All of these people were aged 69 and up.

The judge cited their age and societal contributions as a reason to keep them out of prison. A reduced sentence in China’s court system means that a convict will stay at home, but they can be imprisoned for minor charges. Their leash is very short moving forward, and if they exhibit any more democratic propaganda, they will be sent to jail.

A 64-year-old named Lee Cheuk-yan was sent to jail for 14 months. His age did not cause the judge to give him a reduced sentence. Lee has been a democratic activist for the majority of his adult life.

Threats of Democracy Activists

The Hong Kong government has been doing its best to keep democracy out of its territory. These arrests are major news, but this is not the first time democratic leaders have been jailed.

These arrests are part of the city’s final cleanup to remove all signs of democracy. The majority of leaders had already been sentenced in past years. Lai was the most prominent leader in this group, and this is not the first time he has been sent to jail.

The 2019 Demonstration

All of the jailed people played a role in a 2019 demonstration in the streets of Hong Kong. It started as a small assembly in Victoria Park, but it proliferated. There were just under two million participants by the end of the rally.

The march stayed completely peaceful, but it was unauthorized by the government, which is evident with the stringent chastisements from the Hong Kong court. The march caused traffic and road closures, which was why the prosecution used in court to send the democratic leaders to jail.

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