Start of the largest national security trial
About 47 persons have been charged with “subversion” for staging an unauthorised primary election, and the trial for the biggest national security case to ever occur in Hong Kong has officially started.
They include some of the most well-known pro-democracy campaigners in the city, like activists Benny Tai and Joshua Wong.
For the previous two years, the majority of them have been held back for security reasons.
Critics assert that the contentious national security statute of the city is a tool for quashing opposition.
Authorities in China and Hong Kong, meanwhile, insist that it is necessary to quell dissent.
What is the national security law in Hong Kong
Long lines of supporters were visible outside the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court on Monday, where the hearing is being held.
Outside the court, a small gathering of demonstrators also formed. One sign stated: “Crackdown is shameless,” along with the words, “Immediately liberate all political detainees.”
The unauthorised primary election, which was staged to choose candidates for a parliamentary.
Those involved in the case, known
Mr. Tai, 58, a former tenured professor at the University of Hong Kong.
The Chinese government soon declared the primary illegal. The September Legislative Council elections were then postponed, with authorities citing the pandemic as the reason.
The vote was eventually held after a revamp of electoral rules that meant only “patriots” – those loyal to China – were allowed to run for office. It drew Hong Kong’s lowest ever voter turnout.
The trial will be overseen by three handpicked judges and not a jury, which is the practice for national security law cases. It is expected to last 90 days.
Supporters are surrounded by police outside the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts building during a hearing for the 47 pro-democracy activists on trial.
Joshua Wong is among.