With new subversion charges, every prominent HK pro-democracy activist is now in jail, exile, or on trial awaiting sentencing
28 February 2021
Honk Kong Watch
Today, 47 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists who were previously arrested on 6 January 2021 were formally charged with “conspiracy to subvert the state power” under the National Security Law, owing to their participation in the democratic primaries held last July in which over 600,000 Hong Kongers casted their votes.
The democratic primaries were held to maximise the chance of the pro-democracy camp securing a majority in the Legislative Council election. Not only were some of the primaries’ winners disqualified from the official election, the election itself was also postponed for a year with the Hong Kong Government citing the pandemic as cover. Many Hong Kongers at the time argued that the delay was linked to concerns by the pro-Beijing camp that it would likely lose to pro-democracy parties in a landslide similar to the 2019 District Council elections.
On 6 January, the National Security Department of Hong Kong Police arrested 53 activists who organised and stood in the primaries. Those arrested included veteran activists, District Councillors and some former Legislative Councillors.
They were originally required to report to the police on 8 April 2021 but were summoned on 28 February 2021 – five weeks ahead of what was previously stipulated.
If convicted with subversion under the National Security Law, they will all face up to 10 years in prison, or worse, life imprisonment for “an offence of grave nature.” As with the owner of Apple Daily newspaper, Jimmy Lai, the courts will likely deny the defendants bail which means they will face months of remand ahead of trial.