by WorldTribune Staff, January 4, 2021
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed China after the communist nation issued prison sentences to several pro-democracy activists who attempted to flee Hong Kong after communist authorities tightened control over the formerly autonomous region.
“A regime that prevents its own people from leaving can lay no claim to greatness or global leadership,” Pompeo said Thursday. “It is simply a fragile dictatorship afraid of its own people.”
The communist government in China conducted a closed-door trial after detaining 12 pro-democracy activists who attempted to escape Hong Kong in August by speedboat in a desperate bid to reach Taiwan.
The case of the Hong Kong 12 has drawn global attention and concern about the detainees’ treatment.
The Shenzhen Yantian District People’s court sentenced Tang Kai-yin, 31, and Quinn Moon, 33, to three years and two years in jail, respectively, for organizing an illegal border crossing, a statement said.
The remaining eight pro-democracy activists were sentenced to seven months in prison for illegally crossing the border.
Two minors – now aged 17 and 18 – were handed over to Hong Kong police.
“What unfolded inside the Shenzhen courtroom today confirmed what many Hong Kongers feared most — that they no longer enjoy the same rights and protections under the rule of law and an independent judiciary system once guaranteed to all Hong Kongers,” said Hong Kong Democracy Council’s Samuel Chu, who is based in Washington, D.C. “Despite China’s repeated claim of having a ‘sunshine judiciary’ system, the 12 Hong Kongers were denied their chosen legal representation. And no family, rights observers, or representatives from foreign embassies were allowed in the ‘open’ courtroom.”
China in June enacted a security law which criminalizes secessionist, subversive and terrorist activities in Hong Kong, as well as acts of collusion with foreign forces that endanger national security — all of which can be punished with jail terms. Collusion offenses include espionage and efforts to impose sanctions against Hong Kong or the whole of China, and incite hatred against the local or central government.
The law empowers China’s central government to supervise the policing of so-called “subversive activities” in Hong Kong and intervene directly.
The standing committee of China’s legislature reserved the right to interpret the law, meaning Beijing has the final say over how it is implemented, rather than Hong Kong’s courts.
The case of the Hong Kong 12 suggests an ominous forecast for “more than 10,000 also facing protest-related charges,” according to Chu.
“As the judiciary system in Hong Kong becomes more and more corrupted and pressured by the powers in Beijing to deliver political decisions, today’s verdict and sentencing foretell what is to come for all Hong Kongers,” Chu said.
“Hong Kong was a thriving territory until the Chinese Communist Party and its local lackeys destroyed its rule of law and eviscerated the Hong Kong people’s freedoms,” Pompeo said. “The ‘Hong Kong 12’ who tried to flee this tyranny deserved a hero’s welcome abroad, not capture, a secret trial, and prison sentences.”