Hong Kong jails terminally ill activist for attempted Olympics protest
12 July 2022
A Hong Kong activist with terminal cancer was jailed Tuesday for attempted sedition over a planned protest against Beijing’s Winter Olympics that was foiled by a pre-emptive arrest.
Koo Sze-yiu was arrested on February 4, the opening day of the Winter Olympics, after he had announced plans to protest outside Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong.
The 75-year-old was formally charged the next day with “attempting to do or making any preparation to do an act or acts with seditious intention” — a colonial-era offence — and denied bail.
Principal magistrate Peter Law on Tuesday jailed Koo for nine months, saying that the “serious” case required a deterrent sentence.
The longtime activist was defiant in court, saying that “getting jailed is a part of my life”.
“I don’t mind being a warrior for the democracy movement, and I don’t mind being a martyr for democracy and human rights,” he said.
Koo is the latest activist to be jailed in Hong Kong’s crackdown on dissent, which has been propelled by the national security law — imposed by Beijing after the city’s pro-democracy protests in 2019.
While sedition is a colonial-era law, the courts now treat it with the same severity as acts that endanger national security.
Koo’s lawyers had argued that his planned protest was an exercise in free speech and that the sedition charge was unconstitutional.
But the magistrate said the slogans on his protest materials — which read “down with the Communist Party and one-party dictatorship” — aimed to overthrow the regime, and were provocative given the context of 2019’s protests.